What is the Graveyard Shift?
The ‘graveyard shift’ is a slang term for a work period that runs overnight into the early hours of the morning (typically between midnight and 8am, though the times may vary). The phrase is often heard in casino and card rooms as these tend to be open around the clock. This ‘graveyard shift’ tends to be much quieter than the rest of the day, with few patrons visiting the premises and not much going on for the staff.
Graveyard Shift Explained
If you hear a casino employee talking about ‘working graveyard’ or being assigned the ‘graveyard shift’, they are talking about working the night shift. This is a shift that often starts at midnight or 2am, and runs through to 8am or 10am the next day. The graveyard shift is usually the quietest one, and this is where the phrase comes from. Many modern casinos and card rooms are open 24/7, so there is a need for staff who work all through the night – and some of those staff will have to take the graveyard shift.
The phrase is thought to have some basis in past days when workers would be employed to protect cemeteries against graverobbers at night – and to listen out for poor souls who had been buried alive! However, it has been adopted into modern language to mean the shift that takes place during the quietest, loneliest and latest hours of the night.
During the graveyard shift at a casino, there is often a minimal number of staff on duty because there are far less players to look after. Some tables might close down during quiet periods, and services such as catering and entertainment will usually be unavailable. VIP tables and closed card rooms might also shut down during the quiet overnight period, unless there is some special request to keep them open for a player.