For immediate release
April 9, 2020
Casino Workers Demand Full Payment of Wages from Casino Employers for the Duration of COVID-19 Closures
LAS VEGAS—On Thursday, UNITE HERE union leaders from Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the Louisiana/Mississippi Gulf Coast demanded that major casino companies pay all of their workers for the full duration of COVID-19 closures that have shuttered casinos across the country.
While some casino companies, such as Wynn Resorts and the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas have committed to paying their employees, executives at other major casino companies—owned by billionaires or multi-billion-dollar institutional investors—are failing at this moment when their leadership is most needed by not similarly looking out for their employees’ financial well-being during a time of national crisis.
“These big casino companies like to talk about loyalty and corporate social responsibility, but they are sacrificing their employees to preserve their cash hordes when we are in one of the greatest crises we have ever experienced as an industry and as a nation,” said D. Taylor, President of UNITE HERE the hospitality workers’ union, which represents 300,000 workers in the US and Canada, “Shareholders and executives always get paid, but we believe the social compact between casinos and their host communities has always been based on providing for your employees so everyone gets lifted up. The question of money is not the issue—the question of will, is. The gaming industry should pay people during this shutdown. It’s time to do right by the workers”
MGM Resorts, the largest private-sector employer in the state of Nevada, announced it would pay its employees no more than one extra biweekly paycheck after it closed its casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip on March 17. It made the same decision for its casinos elsewhere in the U.S., including Atlantic City, Detroit, and Biloxi. MGM currently has approximately $3.9 billion cash on hand. The company has approximately 70,000 employees in the U.S.
Caesars Entertainment, which is in the process of completing a $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts, is the largest casino operator in Atlantic City and the second largest on the Las Vegas Strip. It has refused to pay anything beyond two weeks to its employees after its casinos were closed in Las Vegas, Atlantic, and 12 other jurisdictions. Caesars currently has $2.8 billion of cash on hand with approximately 64,000 employees in the U.S.
In the Gulf Coast region, MGM operates the largest casino in Mississippi in its Beau Rivage property in Biloxi, and Caesars operates the largest casino in the Crescent City, Harrah’s New Orleans. The companies are both not paying workers anything more than one additional paycheck after the casinos’ closures in mid-March.
Other major casino companies which have chosen not to pay their employees through the government-mandate shutdown include Boyd Gaming, Penn National, Golden Entertainment, and Golden Nugget Casinos. There are also several billionaires who own major casinos and have not paid workers anything after closure, including Alex Meruelo, Phil Ruffin, and David A. Siegel.
UNITE HERE is the largest union of gaming workers in the world, representing over 100,000 members in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Louisiana, Mississippi, California, and several other US states. More than 95% of UNITE HERE’s total union membership of 300,000 is currently idled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.