CANJ and NJ regulator

Atlantic City hosts new casino job fair amid workers' unrest due to ongoing salary negotiations

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The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will host a job fair at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Thursday, where all nine city casinos will be recruiting for several job positions including table game dealers, culinary workers, servers and hotel housekeepers.

The job fair, which is scheduled to last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., takes place a day after hundreds of Atlantic City casino workers picketed outside the Tropicana on Wednesday, as the union for employees pushes for a new contract giving them a share of gambling halls’ post-COVID recovery. Local 54 of Unite Here is seeking a significant wage increase to help its members keep pace with inflation. 

The old contract between the casinos and Local 54 of the Unite Here union expired Wednesday, hours before the picket took place. Union leaders and workers said they will demonstrate as often as necessary to show the casinos they are serious about their demand that workers are able to make up ground as the casinos are trying to do so. 

Union president Bob McDevitt said: “We are united, we are ready to fight, and we have very specific asks in a new contract, number one of which is a raise that matters. Our hope is the individual casinos will recognize that these are really big numbers that they are raking up, and that the workers have not had a cost-of-living raise in a while”. 

The casinos and their online partners are collectively making more money now than before the pandemic hit. But casinos claim those statistics are inaccurate because they get to keep only about 30% of online and sports betting money, with the rest going to their third-party partners. However, they say that in-person revenue won from gamblers is the crucial metric, and not all the casinos have surpassed their pre-pandemic levels. 

The union has been negotiating with Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Harrah's and the Tropicana, as well as MGM Resorts International, which owns the city's top-performing property, the Borgata. The Tropicana was selected for the picket in recognition of Caesars' outsize role as the largest casino employer in the city.

“This is actually the best relationship between the union and the industry that we’ve had in years. Whether that translates to a successful contract negotiation or a giant fight is anyone’s guess. But we’re going to march until we win”, McDevitt added. 

Over the past several months, many area casinos have expressed an eagerness to fill positions as the industry continues to recover from COVID-19. The fair also comes as the casinos move ahead with a number of multi-million-dollar investments, such as the renovation of the rooftop pool at Resorts Casino Hotel.

Four out of the nine Atlantic City casinos have reported gross operating profits increases in the first quarter of 2022, compared to their 2019 numbers.