February 2012Welcome back to Casino Surveillance News, the longest-running trade letter for our little niche in the casino world. This issue is late, again for personal reasons. My wife and I just lost a loved one, a young man, to cancer and medical irresponsibility, and this has taken two weeks out of our lives. But life goes on, so here I am at somewhat reduced capacity, keeping this going for you, my readers, and getting myself back into life as normal. The news-only portion of this newsletter can be seen at http://casinosurveillancenews.com/newsletter-2
CSN News:The Keynote article this month has little to do with Casino Surveillance: It has much more to do with personnel hiring, training and retention practices in the casino industry, sparked off by an "innovation" recently announced by the Revel Casino, opening in Atlantic City (see "Busts and Scams" below). This article will never become a part of my casino surveillance materials, as it is far outside the boundaries of what is considered a part of our duties, though there are some aspects that concern us in Surveillance. There are also links to articles by a colleague, Professor I. Nelson Rose, who has been intimately associated with the recent changes in regards to Internet Poker, and who presents some legal views, including his testimony in Congress, that we should all consider as a part of the "Big Picture" of our jobs.
It's News Time:(Email me if any of the links don't work for you and I will send the text.)
Busts and Scams:A Las Vegas priest has been sentenced to three years in prison for theft of more than $650,000 from his parish, to feed his gambling habit. See the stories at link 1 and link 2 Two Louisiana women were arrested in early January for fraudulent and counterfeit tickets video poker tickets cashed at local businesses. See the story Here's a good, white-collar scam for you: the Kentucky legislature is mandating ethics training for all its members, and paying a famous convicted felon $5000 an hour for his insights. Jack Abramoff was convicted of a number of counts of fraud, conspiracy and lobbying scams. He still owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to Indian tribes. See the story Apparently the record gaming revenues in Macau come from sources the casinos would rather not have people looking at too closely: illegal money transfers from mainland China. It is starting to look as if Macau's ascendancy in the worldwide gaming market may be built on a foundation of sand. See the story A Massachusetts state trooper has been arrested and charged with running an illegal bookmaking operation as well as extortion and other crimes. See the story New Jersey casino regulators fined the Tropicana Casino and Resort $27,500 for allowing a 14-year-old to gamble last summer, as well as violating the rules of a card game. See the story Parx Casino agreed to pay a $30,000 fine for an underage gambling violation, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced in mid-January. See the story The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board fined Mount Airy Casino Resort $20,000 for purchasing goods from a supplier owned by Louis DeNaples while his gaming license was suspended. See the story An unidentified man stole about $360 in credits from a Mount Airy guest in late January. See the story Mount Airy Casino Resort was fined $160,000 for allowing seven underage guests on the gaming floor in February 2011. Many other Pennsylvania casinos were also hit during the same session of the Board. See the story A Saskatchewan dealer convicted of multiple counts of cheating faces prison time unless he repays the tribe that hired and trained him for losses from his cheating. See the story Revel Casino, soon to open in Atlantic City, has announced a new "innovation" in its hiring practices. New hires for the casino will face having to re-apply for the jobs they hold every four to six years. See the story Five women and one man were arrested during a prostitution raid at the Sands casino in Bethlehem, PA. See the story An unemployed man has confessed to strangling his wife to death after she discovered he had rung up $20k of gambling debts. See the story A 61 year-old woman is has been busted for embezzlement after losing $1.5 million of her boss’s money playing slots at a convenience store in Texas. See the story
Online Poker News:The D.C. Council voted to repeal the city’s controversial Internet gambling law. See the story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-wire/post/dc-council-rejects-internet-gambling/2012/02/07/gIQAX0O0wQ_blog.html
Keynote Article:This is an EDITORIAL OPINION piece. Feel free to skip it, and go on to the links to Professor Rose, below.
Casino Hiring Practices
A Professional Opinion from a Non-lawyerby Jim Goding, February 12, 2012 At the time of this writing, I am looking at news stories (probably omitting significant details) regarding the hiring practices at the soon-to-be-opening Revel Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. [You can find two of these stories in the Busts and Scams section above.] I am, to say the least, shocked and disgusted at the information that is actually available. It is true that I cannot have the whole story (considering what may or may not have been revealed to the press, or withheld from the stories, which is my only source in this matter). Regardless of any information I do not have, the practices at this casino, especially in light of the current job market in the United States and in New Jersey in particular, are disgusting, exploitative, and unfair according to current law in the United States, and certainly disgusting according to American customs and what is expected of an employer. What is worse, they could be setting up the casino for a set of losses over the long term that potentially far outweigh the relatively short-term benefits they could receive from these hiring and personnel-retention policies, no matter how well they were vetted by the legal staff of the corporation. Hiring policies like these are what the unions look for when they start recruiting employees. That alone is one of the reasons for a company to look VERY, VERY HARD at any such practices. Having your employees go on strike for two weeks, with the loss of revenue concerned, is far more than enough to offset any benefits gained by the hiring and personnel retention policies this casino has announced. Here is a summary of the practices this casino has announced:
1. Front-line employees such as dealers, cocktail servers, bartenders and slots personnel, agree upon application, that if hired they must re-apply for their jobs and contend with new applicants for the position ever four to six years.
2. After holding their four-to-six year position, in which they have not been fired for cause, they must re-enter the job market by applying for the position they already hold and contend for the position with newer, younger potential employees, in the face of a stated company policy that the practice is to "keep its service fresh."This means that a person who works at this casino has no job security, no matter how good they are at their job. Hiring and firing practices are arbitrary, as all of us know, and especially so in the casino industry, where 'cronyism" abounds, and often a person gets hired because of who he is related to and who he knows, or his or her ability to "suck up to" the potential boss. Believe me, I have seen far more of this in the last 20+ years than I ever expected when I got into the business as a dealer in 1990. And I have seen more evidence of this, from my various positions in Surveillance, than I would care to talk about. It takes two years to make a competent craps or wheel dealer, after they get out of school. It is a year before a new cashier can be trusted not to make dumb errors. It takes months for a slots floorperson to be competent enough to be confident in their job. Think about this, just from the point of training new employees, increased level of mistakes, and the number of thieves that come out of school thinking they can get away with it. Believe me, it ain't just the old-timers that steal. Most of the staff thieves and cheaters have worked for the company less than two years, and many of them have not even yet reached a level of competence at their jobs. When you are going to have to start over every four to six years, it is highly unlikely you will ever be able to buy a house at a reasonable rate of interest. You credit rating will suck, because this information is available to the credit reporting agencies. They have no way of knowing how likely you are to get re-hired: all they know is you will be applying for a job four years from your date of hire, back in the job market again and potentially unemployed every four years. What does that look like to a bank or loan company when looking at a candidate for a 30-year mortgage or five-year car purchase? So right from the start, the Revel casino is looking at making the majority of its front-line employees people who have no interest in keeping their jobs in the long term, or in being star employees. Since the employer is going to have the opportunity to fire them with no risk in four years, why bother training and correcting? Revel casino is looking at making ALL of its front-line employees people who are out to get as much as they possibly can in the short term. This is the Justification corner of the Internal Theft Triangle. Revel Casino is also looking at people who have no interest in long-term investment in the company, such as buying its stock as a part of any benefits programs. "I'll be looking for a job in four years, why should I bother investing in my company?" This reveals another aspect of the situation: After four years of employment, with annual raises for satisfactory performance of around 2 to 3 percent, an employee at the dealer level (minimum wage plus tips) is making a significant amount over his original starting wage. This alone is obviously one of the justifications for these personnel retention policies. A few thousand a year in reduced wages from hiring a new employee---especially since the old one is probably not eligible for unemployment benefits due to his agreement with the casino when applying---is enough to offset the costs of replacing that person, even if the company has to fund his entire licensing costs in New Jersey. [Cha-ching!!] What is the reason given for these policies? "To keep its service fresh." This alone tells you that a front-line employee, no matter how good he is at his job, is going to get let go after one or two rounds. The company will be continually retraining, continually weeding out the employees, none of whom, below the management level, have any stake whatever in establishing themselves in the company. How many star employees do you get out of a company that tells you even before they hire you that you are not going to be working there long enough to make performance a priority? Here is another question, not answered in the press: if a person has to be re-hired by the casino, does he start over at his original wage, or does he retain his wages and increases and other benefits? If he does not retain any benefits of working for the company, then there is no reason for him to re-apply. Having acquired four years of experience as a dealer, he now has a little bit of edge in the rest of the market. However, Revel casino, at the four-year point, will only be receiving applications from inexperienced people, just out of school. No one else will want to work for this company, and there is no benefit in staying there. That means that Revel will have a very limited group of applicants. Most of them will be young and inexperienced, willing to do anything to get a job, no matter the lack of long-term employment prospects. Many of the rest will be people who have not been able to keep a job in other companies, for whatever reasons. No one will want to work for this company who has a career in mind. And there will be a very high expectance of cheats and thieves within their pool of applicants. After all, company loyalty and integrity is not an issue if you have to start over in four years, is it? And if you got fired for poor performance, internal theft, petty theft, lack of compliance with company regulations, none of these are going to show up in your records from the other company unless you actually were arrested. The last point I wish to make, despite many aspects of the situation not yet mentioned, is that Revel is, right up front, stating as a policy that it is not interested in keeping older employees. This is discrimination because of age, and is illegal in this country. I am sure their lawyers have figured out a way around it, but apparently Revel, in looking to "keep its service fresh," is quite willing to let anyone go simply because they are not "fresh." The benefits of getting rid of long-term employees, working at higher rates, has already been seen over the last few years in this, and many other industries in this country, in the current economy. Revel is stating it as a policy, couched in pretty language, right up front. I am INVITING comments on this article, and will publish valid comments that are not simply advertising someone else's website. You are invited to this discussion.
* * *Professor I Nelson Rose articles on current activities in Congress and the courts: http://www.gamblingandthelaw.com/ http://www.gamblingandthelaw.com/columns/317-sweden-gets-it-mostly-right.html http://www.gamblingandthelaw.com/columns/318-amnesty-for-internet-poker-sites.html In addition, Professor Rose testified in Congress on February 9, and I believe he will soon be publishing his testimony.
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