June 12, 2018 by

Casino Strikes not just a Las Vegas Phenomenon

Some of the biggest casino bonuses at land based casinos have nothing to do with getting cash money to play.  This type of bonus is much more the domain of online casinos.  Land based casinos offer many freebies from free or highly subsidized luxury accommodations to free food and drinks to many other amenities that the casinos are more than happy to provide to keep their customers satisfied.


The casino employees who provide these services are very concerned about the future of their jobs and about the present day benefits they receive from the casinos.  Some employees have decided to go out on strike.

Las Vegas

The most prominent, but not the only one, is the impending strike by 25,000 casino employees in the food and drink and housekeeping side of the casino operation.

Workers are afraid that automation in the form of robots may cause many of them to lose their jobs.  In addition, they are very concerned about the level of the health care plan provided by the casinos.

A strike of casino workers has not happened in Las Vegas in many decades but the present climate is such that the workers fear that the casinos won’t sign a new five year deal because the casinos believe that automating many of the jobs presently performed by people will be feasible in far less than five years.

After all, fast food chains are replacing people with computers and robots to a very large extent.

Twin River Casino

Valet employees went out on a short strike last Friday and came back to work on Sunday.  They were protesting the inferior, in their opinions, health care plan provided by the casino.

The question is whether the casino will feel the need to improve the health care plan and if valet services can be turned over to robots.

Caesar’s Windsor

This Canadian casino saw a strike begin in April of this year.  The strike involved 2000 employees and has shut the casino since early April.  The workers ratified a new three year contract with the casino last week.  The casino reopened a few days later.

The contract was ratified by 75% of the union’s members.  This was the third new contract put to a member vote since negotiations began.  The first two possible deals were voted down by slim majorities setting the stage for the present contract.

Although 75% approval would be a major landslide in political terms, the fact that as many as 25% still disapprove of the deal means that it is far from a perfect deal.

The deal calls for a $1600 bonus for ratifying the contact and three wage increases: $1500 the first and second years and $500 the third year.   There were no reports as to the percent increase in wages but a $1500 raise is only 3% for a salary of $50,000.

The strike was very costly to the casino as it had to cancel concerts and hotel reservations.  It also benefited Detroit area casinos that stayed open.  Some people in the land based casino business have said that the strike lasted so long that it may have caused irreparable damage to the Caesar’s Windsor brand.  If it did, it would be an abject lesson in the dangers of long-lasting strikes when both the company’s and the employees’ interests suffer in the long term.

Hard Rock Casino

A strike vote among 400 casino workers in this Coquitlam, British Columbia casino was taken in February.  The stroke was approved and was set to start in May.  The strike began on May 11 and has lasted three weeks.

The workers want a pay raise, which they say they haven’t had in ten years.  They also want improved benefits, job security, fair work schedules, and respect.  The last of these demands may indicate a trend in land based casinos.

Despite the huge popularity of online casino gaming, land based casinos seem to be doing quite well.  In fact, Hard Rock Casino has reported massive revenue gains in the year before the strike vote was taken.  Apparently, the casino is not in favor of sharing the wealth.

Casinos and Employees

Whereas online casinos are run by computers and have relatively few employees, land based casinos need employees to perform every task.  The dealers and croupiers have to be extremely professional.  They work short shifts because a tired or physically suffering dealer or croupier would give the casino a very bad image especially in today’s culture of swift communication through social media.

Casinos also operate hotels.  These are notoriously labor intensive as every room must be cleaned, beds must be made, toiletries must be replaced, and the entire physical plant has to be maintained.  Just running the air conditioning in a place like Las Vegas in the summer is a massive expense to the casino and hotel.

Hotels run restaurants and bars.  Restaurants are even more labor intensive than hotels.  A top casino hotel might have several restaurants from fast food to high end dining. 

Casinos will always say that they have to keep costs down to stay competitive.  On the other hand, they need good workers who want to keep the casino’s brand in good standing with the public.  In today’s employment environment, where almost everyone in the United States who wants a job can find one, the casinos will have to pay more for workers in some way.  They might pay more in base salary, in bonuses, or in other benefits.

Workers fear that the pressure to go to robots and other forms of automation could make their jobs not obsolete but no longer performed by a flesh and blood person.

The signs indicate that we may be entering a period of large scale labor unrest in the land based casino business.