Nevada Casino Employment Ramping Back Up, Lawmakers Want Guarantees

  • Dealer school owners say enrollments are up and job placements are high
  • A new Nevada Senate bill would require casinos to rehire laid-off workers
  • Supporters of the bill say it is just “common sense”
  • Opponents feel it could lead to unnecessary litigation
closeup of casino dealer handling stack of chips
While dealer schools in Nevada are reporting positive enrollment and excellent job placement rates, some lawmakers want to require casinos to hire back their laid-off employees. [Image:]

Dealer school enrollment increasing

The COVID-19 pandemic has been awful in so many ways, but for Nevada, it has been particularly devastating economically. Because of last year’s casino closures and an almost complete shutdown of tourism for months, nearly 200,000 hospitality workers lost their jobs, according to the state’s Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation.

Fortunately, because of vaccinations and adherence to health and safety protocols, things are looking up and the need for casinos to fill roles is increasing.

Ricky Richard, owner of the Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that even though it is still an uphill battle against the pandemic, his enrollment numbers are almost back to where they were before everyone’s lives were put on hold. And graduates are finding work quickly.

In moments of catastrophe, there’s always opportunity. And that’s certainly been the case here.”

“Right now, almost anybody who wants to work, we can get them to work,” Richard said. “We’re graduating a handful of people every week, but we’re able to place them. … In moments of catastrophe, there’s always opportunity. And that’s certainly been the case here.”

PCI Dealer School owner Jesse Lauer said that class enrollment isn’t quite where it was, but numbers have certainly improved. And employment rates are almost 100%.

David Noll, managing director of the CEG Dealer School, said that many students used to work back-of-house jobs at casinos, while some are dealers who want to learn more games to improve their resumes. He added that dealer salaries, with tips, usually range from the mid-$30,000s to over $50,000, depending on location.

Bill would require casinos to rehire

In Carson City, lawmakers are discussing a bill that would guarantee laid-off casino workers the right to return to their previous employer. SB 386, the “Right to Return” bill, would require employers in the casino, hospitality, stadium, and travel-related areas to offer a job to those who were laid off after March 12, 2020 and were employed for at least six months the year before.

The job would have to be something for which the person is qualified, that is, not an obvious downgrade or completely unrelated position just to give someone a job.

Naturally, people still looking for employment are in favor of the bill, as are labor unions.

They’re ready day one.”

“This is good for the economy and businesses. This legislation provides for already-trained and experienced staff — a staff that was praised a year ago by the same companies,” UNITE HERE president D. Taylor said during the bill’s presentation. “To get back to work immediately, there’s no retraining necessary. They’re ready day one.”

“Let’s pass this bill and let’s give people back work,” added Rusty McAllister, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. “This is not a complex issue. Just hire the people back that were laid off through no fault of their own.”

Some don’t want government intervention

But not everybody sees the bill as a “common sense” measure. Those against it argue that it would put an undue burden on employers to have to prove why they can’t hire back every person who was laid off.

“There are federal and state laws to protect against discrimination and unfair labor practices,” argued Ann Silver, CEO for the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce. “And there was enough work for lawyers. Let’s not create new legislation that begs for litigation and class action lawsuits.”

State Senator Keith Pickard (R – Henderson) said it will take some time for casinos to hire everyone back, if they will be able to at all. He added: “Now they’re going to have to face a court to justify why they laid off a certain person.”

Other opponents of the bill, particularly casino companies, pointed out that they provided benefits to laid-off and furloughed employees during the pandemic and are working hard to get as many back as possible.

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