Wynn Las Vegas to stop allowing other workers to share dealers’ tips

Wynn Las Vegas is ending an unorthodox policy of forcing dealers to share their tip pool with other employees, taking a major step toward resolving a bitter 12-year fight.

Wynn Las Vegas executive Charlie Stone informed dealers Tuesday evening that the practice would end effective Nov. 12, said Kanie Kastroll, a dealer who has helped lead the fight against the company policy. Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver confirmed the change Wednesday morning.

The roughly 980 Wynn Las Vegas dealers will take home about $10,000 more a year in tips, Kastroll said. However, Wynn is cutting the dealers’ recent $2 pay raise by $1 to $8.25, a move that will trim their annual fixed pay by $2,000.

Dealers were enthusiastic with the late night news, but said they are not giving up their fight to get back some of the tip money shared with other employees over the past 12 years.

“Everyone is excited — it has been a long time coming, a long struggle, but we still want our back money,” said Kastroll.

Unorthodox policy

Wynn Resorts Ltd. co-founder Steve Wynn launched the tip pool sharing policy in September 2006 when he simultaneously created the position of team leads to replace both floor supervisors and pit bosses.

Wynn Las Vegas had opened the year before and was drawing in huge crowds that tipped generously. Steve Wynn was concerned that dealers were racking in much more than their supervisors and that it disincentivised people to rise in rank.

The new policy mandated that dealers share about 12 percent of their pooled tips with so called “casino service team leads,” who dealers claim are supervisors.

The company has argued that the team leads are not supervisors — and thus eligible for part of the tip pool — because they don’t have influence over pay or work schedules and have no power to discipline dealers.

The dealers have filed two federal lawsuits in 2013 and 2018 against the company to recoup as much as $50 million in lost tips.

Wynn Las Vegas is the only casino operator on the Strip to have the position of casino service team lead and the only one to allow other employees to share in the dealers’ tip pool.

180 degrees

As part of the policy shift announced Tuesday, Wynn Las Vegas will completely reverse Steve Wynn’s 2006 decision.

“The casino service team lead position is being eliminated and a new position of casino supervisor will be created. As a result, dealers will be the only members of the tip pool,” Weaver said.

The table game casino supervisor will receive a fixed salary of $37.50 an hour, equivalent to $300 a day, he said. That is 33 percent higher than the fixed salary that team leads currently earn.

Wynn, in effect, is bumping the supervisor pay to compensate for their exclusion from the tip pool, dealers say. Wynn Las Vegas payroll could potentially increase by a few million dollars.

Weaver did not say if all 267 team leads will be offered a position as a supervisor. The new table games casino supervisor will have more duties, including coaching and training of table games employees and well as participating in interviews and auditions for new table games employees, Weaver said.

Tuesday’s policy change announcement comes after President Donald Trump signed legislation on March 23 that forbids supervisors from sharing in an employee tip pool.

Maddox leadership

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox has sought to put out corporate fires and boost company morale since taking the helm in February after sexual harassment allegations ousted his predecessor Steve Wynn.

Maddox quickly moved to settle a six-year battle with Wynn co-founder Kazuo Okada over a 20 percent stake in the company. Next, he appeased angry Massachusetts regulators by changing the name of the company’s casino to Encore Boston Harbor from Wynn Boston Harbor. Later, he reached a deal with Elaine Wynn, the company’s largest shareholder, to appoint Phil Satre as chairman.

Maddox replaced legacy directors close to Steve Wynn with women to appease shareholders and regulators.

He also held town hall meetings with employees, launched a Wynn For All slogan and boosted the hourly pay of dealers to rally employees in the wake of nearly daily stories about the history of sexual harassment at the company.

However, the latter moves failed to overcome the angry dealers, which account for about 8 percent of Las Vegas staff.

Contact Todd Prince at 702-383-0386 or tprince@reviewjournal.com. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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