The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused the global land-based industry to the shutdown which has cost gaming operators billions of dollars in revenue and has resulted in millions of casino workers being laid off.
Nevada Casinos Unsure About Reopening
The state of Nevada which is the biggest gaming hub in America has taken the biggest blow as a result. Governor Steve Sisolak sent out an order on March 17, 2020, instructed all 219 licensed land-based casinos in the state to shut down operations immediately. Nevada wasn’t going to take any chances of having thousands of people congregate in casinos and run the risk of rapidly spreading the COVID-19 virus.
This is a contact sport
Nevada has reported close to 2,000 COVID-19 positive tests and a death toll of 46 people at the time of this writing. Nevada casinos will remain closed till April 30 as of now and it is highly likely that the shutdown will be extended into May. At this point in time, there is no estimate as to when casinos in Las Vegas and Nevada will be re-opened.
Two Hundred Thousand Casino Employees Struggling
The sudden closure of 219 casinos in Nevada has caused over 219,000 employees to find themselves without work and without a paycheck. Most of these casino employees like the majority of Americans live pay-check to pay-check and have little to no savings to get them through this global pandemic.
Casino employees find themselves not only battling the fear of contracting COVID-19 but also the fear of having no money and not being able to take care of themselves and their families. This is a really place to be as many Nevada casino employees are taking to social media and gambling forums to voice their concerns and cries for help.
Casino employees have turned to the government for help and have filed for unemployment benefits. Within a span of three weeks since the statewide closure of casinos, the state has received over 170,000 unemployment benefit claims and a significant number of those claimants are from the Nevada casino industry. Those numbers will continue to increase in April as more casino employees file for unemployment benefits.
Nevada Unable To Process Claims Quickly
Nevada like many other states in America was not prepared to deal with this global pandemic and the massive shutdown across all industries. The state government has struggled to process the volume of unemployment claims and as a result, the majority of claimants are yet to get their unemployment cheques.
Casino employees in Nevada are frustrated that they are getting no financial help from the state government at a time like this and are taking out their frustrations on Governor Sisolak and his team. They have also called on the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) to help them get their benefits and provide them with more information on what they can expect.
However, the DETR is also not in a position to help them and has released a statement informing casino employees that it has no indication at this point in time as to when unemployment benefits will hit their accounts. Casino employees who call the helpline have complained of long waiting hours and then getting generic answers that are of no help.
How Much Is the Unemployment Benefit?
President Donald Trump approved a CARES Act stimulus package in March worth $2 trillion. This will enable Nevada to increase its unemployment benefits by $600 per week and give out these increases payouts till July 31, 2020. Casino employees have been told that these benefits will be backdated and hence even if their claim is delayed, they will not be losing out on any money!
The DETR has claimed that it is yet to receive any of these additional funds sanctioned by the CARES Act. As soon as Nevada receives the extra money, it will process these unemployment claims faster.
Sands Corp. And Wynn Resorts Paying Employees
Las Vegas Sands Corp which is the biggest casino operator in the world and Wynn Resorts which is another major casino operator in Nevada have agreed to pay their casino employees till May 15. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson who is the chairman of Sands Corp said that they decided it was the right thing to do to pay their employees and help their families in this time of crisis.
However, the majority of casino operators are not as big and as financially strong as Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts. Most of these casino employees have either been furloughed or sacked and have no idea if and when they will be able to get their job back.
Even if the Nevada casino industry opens in the next month or two, it is highly unlikely that casino operators will be able to recover quickly and go back to running daily operations as the travel and tourism industries also need to recover and get their operations back to normal.
What Can Casino Employees Do Now?
While the land-based casino industry has experienced a massive shutdown in Nevada, the online industry is booming, many employees will find their safety net there. This is because Nevada land-based casino employees can be employed by online casino operators in any part of the world.
Most online casinos have witnessed a significant increase in their online casino traffic. Live dealer casino games continue to be popular now more than ever as land-based casino players are turning to live dealer casino games. This is one niche where Nevada dealers can seek employment. The best thing that Nevada casino employees can do is to make a list of the top 10 online casino operators in the world and then check their websites for career openings.
Nevada casino employees should also update their resumes, LinkedIn profiles and then put themselves out there on social media to see if they can get employment in the iGaming market!