A Look at Hiring In a Pandemic for California’s Casinos

A Look at Hiring In a Pandemic for California's Casinos

Alongside an uptick in customers in July, when in-person gambling returned after Covid-19, Casinos have struggled to fill job openings. But now, coupled with a rise in cases due to the Delta Variant, hiring has become even more difficult.

In late June and early July, much of the concern surrounding hiring was due to employee fears regarding the Delta variant and crowded indoor work spaces. Now in August, with the Delta Variant no longer a concern, but more of a reality, hiring will only continue to be difficult. For reference, the 7-day average for new cases in California as of August 8th is 11,147. On July 8th, it was 5,275.

Recruitment for janitors, cashiers, cooks, groundskeepers and other job openings has, though, grown exponentially since March of 2020. But even still, the casinos have not been able to fill these roles as much as they would like. The best example of this would be at the San Manuel Casino, as large expansion has been made difficult by slow hiring.

Job Loss Stats

None of this can come as much of a surprise. After all, in February 2020 California’s Gambling Industry employed nearly 16,000 people. By August 2020, that number fell to nearly 2,000, according to Robert Kleinhenz of Kleinhenz Economics.

But as of June of this year, numbers crept back up to around 13,000. Kleinhenz attributes this drop off to employees likely finding work in other industries. Former employees may have found other jobs when casinos were temporarily shutting down or downsizing.

Casinos Offering Work Benefits

The San Manuel has had to institute incentives for hiring. They’ve offered $1,000 welcome bonuses and up to $300 in perks for new hires. These benefits are included for kitchen and custodial staff as well as environmental services technicians.

Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula is doing something similar. With 250 job openings in July, they began to offer similar incentives. They hosted a job fair, offering $1,500 and $1,000 signing bonuses. New hires were also offered free meals as well as health insurance, a retirement program, and aid for educational loans.

Additionally, Harrah’s Resort in San Diego County has added a special incentive for new employees. The casino offers a two-night stay to hires who remain with the company for 90 days.

The Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella offered a $500 dollar signing bonus at a Job Fair in July. They also offered $200 for employees who stayed 90 days and $300 for employees who stayed 180 days. The hiring process for many of these casinos, as evidenced, has not been a smooth one. And they have had to include many benefits in order to see an uptick in new hires.

Current Difficulties in Hiring

Vice President of the Pechanga Resort also elaborated on their hiring process, a process that inherently makes hiring difficult. Cary Berner, the Pechanga VP, said, ” Our background checks go back 15 years, while most businesses just go back 10 years. We also do fingerprinting and a pre-employment drug test. Once that clears, we set up an appointment for the gaming commission to issue the new employee a badge.”

But even if Casino’s have stringent policies when it comes to who they hire, they are mostly being hampered by a workforce that does not want to return to work. For instance, Quantum Staffing, a staffing Agency based in California, has echoed that many of their clients are hiring, but nobody wants to work.

This is not just a problem in the Casino industry, but for the job market on the whole. It may be approaching time for Casino’s to either remain incredibly patient with hiring, or think of altering or updating some hiring protocols.

Author: Erika Simmmons