Gaming Employees Demand Pay As COVID-19 Casino Closures Are Extended

With all USA casinos closed throughout the United States, furloughed and laid-off workers are wondering where their next paycheck will come from. It will most likely not be from the casino that employs them, because most are not offering sick leave or paid time off.

Many casinos in Las Vegas have provided their workers two weeks’ pay. While that may seem generous when compared to the status of out of work employees who have not been paid at all, two-weeks’ compensation is not a significant enough amount of money to sustain a person or family throughout the duration of this pandemic.

Union leaders for casino workers from Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Mississippi, and New Orleans met via teleconference on Thursday, and many are criticizing the gaming industry, accusing them of sitting on piles of money that the employees helped them earn while pandemonium runs rampant.

Not all casinos are folding on their employees. ABC News reports that MGM Resorts has an $11 million contingency fund that it is using to assist their workers with anything from rent payments to medical bills. It is a nice gesture, but with the COVID-19 lockdown threatening to extend into the summer, those coffers will dry up quickly.

Some are suggesting a federal bailout for gaming facilities to continue salary payments and keep the casinos from going underwater. Unfortunately, almost all US states do not allow for their regulated gambling sites to offer online play of any kind.

With everyone stuck at home for the foreseeable future, mobile gaming could provide enjoyment for local gamblers and employment for at least a skeleton crew of workers that would not need to engage with the public and risk infection. As it sits, legitimate online casinos are raking in the cash while the domestic gaming industry sits idle.

Now, more than ever, the revenue that offshore betting sites capture from USA gamblers should alarm the industry and lawmakers. US gambling laws need to be revised in order to allow for online play across the board.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, when will the casinos reopen? As new medical data comes in, the outlook continues to change for an end to the projected quarantine timeline.

The first proposed date for reopening was set for early April and was then pushed back to early May. Now, many are choosing to state that they are closed until further notice. While the statement doesn’t offer any assurance for customers and employees, it does place the focus of top casino executives on more important issues than a hard date that no one can predict.

The one thing that’s for sure is, nothing is for sure. The entire gaming industry is being held in the balance of the next batch of medical data to be released. The best practice that casinos can do now is to post an indefinite reopening message and focus on the well-being of the employees that are struggling to stay afloat during this crisis.