Nevada and Massachusetts Casinos Continue to Face Post-Pandemic Staff Shortages

  • MGM Resorts International is looking to hire for over 3,000 positions in the Las Vegas Valley
  • In June, about 9.6% of the workforce in the Sin City area were still unemployed
  • Poker games at major Massachusetts casinos have not resumed because of a lack of dealers
  • The state regulator won’t yet issue an order for the gaming properties to restart poker games
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Casinos in Nevada and Massachusetts are currently trying to deal with worker shortages in the hope of resuming all gaming operations. [Image:]

MGM Resorts on a hiring spree

Casinos in Massachusetts and Nevada are facing a shortage of employees as they look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many casino operators are currently competing with one another to make a significant number of hires in order to offset the shortfall.

over 3,000 positions in the Las Vegas Valley

MGM Resorts International is attempting to recruit for over 3,000 positions in the Las Vegas Valley. An event that kicked off on July 26 at the Workforce Connections One-Stop Career Center on Charleston Boulevard saw hiring managers back on-site on Monday to meet with interested applicants. The company also announced a summer luau hiring drive taking place this week through Thursday:

Some of the main roles that MGM Resorts is looking to fill are security officers, food and beverage workers, as well as retail associates. However, the casino operator has vacancies across the board, and job offers may well happen on the spot.

MGM Resorts International owns many casino resorts across Las Vegas, including the Mirage, Park MGM, and the Excalibur.

For Vegas, times are a-changing

According to One-Stop Career Center project director Joe Sharpe, major employers like MGM Resorts are now conducting more in-person recruiting and offering better perks to candidates. He said: “They’re highlighting their benefits, they’re highlighting what makes a job attractive because they’re in competition with a lot of other employers.”

Sharpe also spoke about changing trends since the pandemic set in. He believes that more people are looking for jobs that offer child care and work-from-home opportunities rather than just considering the wages and type of job.

the biggest unemployment rate in the country’s large metro areas

In June, about 9.6% of the workforce in the Las Vegas area were still unemployed. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the biggest unemployment rate in the country’s large metro areas. A close second on the list was Los Angeles, while the national unemployment was 6.1%. At the height of the pandemic, the unemployment rate in Las Vegas was the highest in the nation at 34.2%.

No poker games to play in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the Wynn Resorts-owned Encore Boston Harbor casino resort is struggling to find workers. Poker games at the casino resort have not returned to the casino since restrictions were lifted in May for Massachusetts casinos because of a dealer shortage.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has received numerous complaints about local casinos not offering poker games. Some people are even calling on the MGC to allow for the creation of poker parlors.

On the back of these questions, the MGC was asking operators about the reasons for the lack of poker games. Encore Boston Harbor SVP and general counsel Jacqui Krum spoke on the matter at the July 29 MGC public meeting:

Krum mentioned how the property is continually in hiring mode, saying:

We simply cannot find enough dealers, cashiers, or food servers.”

She added that the venue has not ruled out bringing back poker games, but not at this moment in time. The property’s dealer school is still operating, but there is still a lack of staff to offer poker games. If these poker tables were to reopen, the casino would have to stop offering other types of table games.

Krum also spoke about how the casino is constantly readjusting its offering based on customer preferences. As the venue has limited space, the former poker area is now being used to offer some of the casino’s highest-performing slot machines. The MGM Springfield casino resort also has not been offering poker games since restarting its operations.

Potential reasons behind the staff shortages

The MGC does not plan to issue an order for the gaming properties to restart poker games. It will continue to monitor the situation and not micromanage the casinos. However, MGC chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein did note that “table games provide more jobs than slot machines,” with jobs being an important area of focus for the regulator.

Commenting on the shortage of poker dealers was Boston College finance professor Richard McGowan. He believes that casinos will likely have to increase the base salaries of dealers in order to attract them to the jobs available.

Casino dealers often rely heavily on tips from patrons because their base salaries are relatively low.

Besides any fears about catching COVID-19, McGowan believes that “unless the tables are full with patrons, the dealers might be better off to wait to see if the patrons are willing to return to the tables.”

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