Not all jobs created equal with casino employment

Nov 27, 2012 3:00 AM

I heard from a number of casino employees who appear to have read last week’s column about the industry creating new jobs across the U.S. They reminded me there is more than meets the eye to the promise of casino jobs.

What they were saying, in so many words, is not all jobs are created equal. They are correct.

A 40-hour work week with full benefits is usually going to be much more satisfying than a part time or extra board assignment that may include partial benefits or none at all.

As I was reminded (in the words of one Las Vegas casino worker), “a lot of Las Vegas jobs are not what they used to be.” A weak or fragile economy that has been a body blow to discretionary spending forced employers into a defensive strategy. Benefits and work assignments have been cut or even eliminated. The result: they have less money to spend.

The good news is most of those affected by the changes – unlike the former bakers of Twinkies at Hostess – are still working. The bad news is they are not working as much as they would like to be. Discretionary spending comes in somewhere behind making the mortgage and light bill payments.

Here’s one recent example. Caesars took all the telephone operators from its Las Vegas properties and moved them to Bally’s in a single call center with about 100 people. It then gave 40-hour weeks to the 50 with highest seniority, gave work weeks of about 30 hours to the next 30, laid off others and put the remainder on an extra board.

Was it a good idea? I don’t know, but it represents one of many efforts to save money while “right-sizing,” as PR people often like to put it.

Resort executives have been busy reading and responding to the signs associated with trends: Is the economy improving, stagnant or sliding backward? And this has everything to do with the point I was making last week: A lot of jobs will be created across the U.S. by gaming and entertainment over the next several years.

Influential forces in states other than Nevada have read the signs and decided a properly thought out commercial gaming policy can provide the economic catalyst that encourages travel and spending which, in turn, generate tax revenues and thousands of (yes!!) jobs.

They will not be Nevada jobs in most cases, but they may benefit Nevada jobs as casinos in other states make it possible for Nevada-based companies hungry for expansion cross-market to customers in these new locations (Maryland, Florida, etc.) who are hungry for Las Vegas experiences.

The money usually gets to Las Vegas in one way or another…eventually.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].

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