Argosy Casino’s John Chaszar Offers a Peek Into the Gaming Industry

Everyone knows that Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa offers slots, blackjack and poker. But according to John Chaszar, vice president and general manager, they’re not the most popular attractions at the 258-room hotel.

“The showers are, by far, the most common thing people write down on our comment cards. They’re the most amazing part of the hotel. People tell us they were late for their meeting because they stood in the rainforest,” Chaszar says.

“They have the rain head, they’re oversized. You can’t match our showers.”

In fact, he says, he had a similar style installed in his bathroom at home.

He recommends the food, as well, at the entertainment complex, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary on June 22. The dining options include a steakhouse, a buffet and an upscale sports bar.

“We have phenomenal food here,” Chaszar says. “Our food and beverage staff does an amazing job. … Our customers come here for the amenities. Everyone knows you can come here to game — we want you to have a winning entertainment experience.”

Chaszar first visited Argosy Casino as a gamer on the floor, back in June 1994 when the casino first opened.

“That’s why you get in the business — you enjoy being on the floor, too. You’re always out there with your customers and your employees. It’s not sitting in an office, counting numbers,” he says.

He considers his shareholders to include not only the ownership group, Penn National Gaming, but also his employees and customers. He has an open-door policy, telling his employees that “if you ever wake up in the morning and don’t want to come to work, if there’s something I’m doing or the business is doing, give me one chance to fix it. If I can’t, I don’t blame you for leaving.”

His career began in the hospitality business, and he entered the gaming industry in 2001. Along the way, he worked on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on a riverboat.

“Whenever the height of the river changed, you would have to adjust your boarding platform,” Chaszar says. But that sounds simple compared to the requirements in Missouri state law for gaming.

Argosy’s gaming floor is suspended above six feet of water, held steady by a series of metal rods and inflatable bags. In recent years, the laws have loosened — they no longer have to have Missouri River water underneath the floor and can use city water — but one thing remains the same: The gaming floor is indeed floating, even if the rest of the complex is not.

But Chaszar isn’t complaining. He genuinely loves his job, which he has held since 2011, and enjoys the city of Riverside as well.

One community connection that Argosy Casino has made is its Chairman’s Circle corporate membership in the Mid-American Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Argosy also gives back to the community through tax revenue and direct giving to charities like Synergy Services, a nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of violence; the Riverside Fire Police Athletic League, a youth crime prevention program; and Miles of Smiles, a nonprofit that helps provide dental care to children who otherwise would not have access.

Chaszar says that he made it to where he is today by “sticking [his] nose where it didn’t belong.” He mentions attending meetings that he wasn’t invited to, just to sit quietly and learn other parts of the business. “It’s the only way you learn outside of your field.” He also credits those around him, from mentors to family and friends, quoting a Kenny Chesney song by saying, “I didn’t get here alone.”

Chaszar makes his enthusiasm and drive clear. “My brain is here 24 hours a day,” he says. “If the day ever comes I have to work someplace else, I don’t think I’d be very happy.”

Photographer: Landon Vonderschmidt

The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more atMAGLCC.org. 

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