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Casinos’ ramped up hiring efforts appear to be paying off

Updated May 30, 2021 - 7:18 pm

Pent-up demand to visit Las Vegas has boosted optimism for a strong recovery following a pandemic-induced shutdown over the last year.

Along with that optimism has come a pressing need to ensure thousands of jobs are filled in casinos across Southern Nevada.

Casino-resort operators have held career fairs over the past few months and weeks to bolster their staffs – hiring positions from housekeeping to amusement park ride attendants to valets to cashiers cage employees to lifeguards and more. Many are finding success in hiring new workers to meet demand as Las Vegas readies to fully reopen on Tuesday.

“(There’s) a constant need because of what’s going on with the pandemic, everything has slowed down, and business picking up — and June 1st, things might change — so we’re ramping up,” said James Ikeda, a talent acquisition manager at The Venetian, the flagship property of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The company is already seeing positive results. “Quite honestly, our company and the property has done phenomenal,” Ikeda said. “During the weekends, we have had 100 percent occupancy, so we definitely are seeing the comeback for the city.”

‘Crunch in employment to be expected’

Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor of hospitality at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, said the career fairs at several casinos and hotel properties throughout the valley are positive indicators that the local economy is rebounding.

“It is a very good sign that we have made such a rapid economic comeback,” said Belarmino.

Still, some casino-resort employers have experienced challenges with hiring.

“The crunch in employment is to be expected,” said Belarmino. “First of all, several former casino employees may have moved on to other occupations or may have relocated.”

Belarmino mentioned other reasons, including lingering concerns regarding COVID-19 and that many people may be shopping for jobs, “trying to see where they can find the most advantageous situation.”

“However, with full reopening on June 1 and the increase in vaccination rates, hopefully the casinos will be able to find sufficient and well-trained staff,” said Belarmino.

Filling casino-resort positions

Boyd Gaming has already held three job fairs to date with a fourth one scheduled for its quick-service food outlets on June 10.

David Strow, spokesman for Boyd Gaming, said the company has job openings at its properties throughout the valley and has been actively hiring for some time.

“Hiring is certainly one of our biggest challenges right now, but we have been able to find quality candidates,” said Strow. “By promoting our unique workplace culture and our efforts to be an employer of choice, we’ve been able to stand out in a competitive market.”

Some casinos-resort properties have scaled up their job fairs and simplified the hiring process, while others are offering signing bonuses.

Ikeda, from The Venetian, said the Strip operator has held career fairs in the past, but nothing of the size of its event last Wednesday and Thursday. It was looking to fill nearly 300 open positions.

“We have done smaller job fairs, this is definitely one of the bigger ones we’ve done as a career fair and it’s been very successful,” he said.

What was new this time around, Ikeda said, was that The Venetian had computers on-site so prospective employees could fill out their applications after they are interviewed.

“And the most exciting part, we’re getting offers on the spot contingent based on their background check, COVID and drug testing,” added Ikeda. The Venetian had offered more than 70 jobs through the two-day fair last week.

Other places, including Circus Circus, had held job fairs where drug and background checks were made available on-site once a job seeker received a job offer, creating amore seamless and efficient hiring process.

Golden Entertainment, which owns The STRAT and Arizona Charlie’s, said it’s held a number of career fairs at its properties.

“We’ve hired many qualified team members through these fairs, which have included on-the-spot hiring and signing bonuses up to $500 for select positions,” Golden Entertainment said in a statement.

MGM Resorts International said the company has received a “large, enthusiastic” response from recent hiring events and is continuing to actively recruit employees as business and visitation grows.

“Las Vegas and our industry is recovering fast and we’ve been calling back and seeking to hire new employees as quickly as we can. It’s great to welcome back furloughed team members and create even more jobs within the community,” MGM spokesman Marc Jacobson said in an email statement.

Wynn Resorts said that it has focused on preserving its culture and service standards throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve achieved that by, among other things, paying our employees during the closure and then furloughing as few employees as possible,” the company said in a statement. “As business volumes increase, we are able to increase the work hours of current employees and bring back more employees from furlough as closed amenities, such as nightclubs, begin to reopen.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, the late chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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