Now that the casino industry in the US is returning to normal, it appears as though many people still don’t want to go back to work. Across the country, casinos are having extreme difficulty filling open positions, making it harder for them to provide all of the services and amenities they offered before COVID-19 decimated the market. Many casinos in Colorado are part of that group, as well, as a number of them are still desperately trying to complement their workforces. However, not even bonuses of more than $1,000 have proven appealing enough to attract employees.
Colorado Casinos Slow to Recover
Casinos in Cripple Creek, CO, are short-staffed and have been trying every trick in the book to attract talent. While many positions have been filled by those individuals ready to get back to work, the local employment rate has risen since COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. The Colorado Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate in Teller County, where Cripple Creek resides, was 3.1% in February of last year, before COVID-19, and is now 5.9%. That may be better than the 15% recorded in April of last year, but it is still equal to the March figure, which means a significant number of positions are still open.
Colorado casinos began reopening in June of last year, but health restrictions prevented casinos from returning to normal. The state started offering additional unemployment benefits, up to $600 per week, which proved to be an incentive for people to stay at home. Even though those benefits have been cut in half, there hasn’t been an influx of applications submitted for open positions at casinos, and some properties have reported that they are not getting a single application for certain positions. As a result, some restaurants and other amenities at the casino properties still remain closed.
Unemployment Trending Across the US
Cripple Creek isn’t the only area to report issues with finding enough people to fill job vacancies. Mississippi has suffered the same problem, although it removed all additional unemployment benefits this month, which will force more people to look for work. Even Las Vegas has had similar difficulties, with unemployment increasing from 8.8% to 9% from March to April of this year. The staffing situation comes as all of the areas are now operating normally once again.
Cripple Creek casinos have tried to offer bonuses to attract employees, but these aren’t helping, either. Sign-on bonuses of over $1,000 and referral bonuses of $100 have been presented but, as Triple Crown Casinos Director of Corporate Casino Operations Scott Porter puts it, “We’re not getting any applicants; nobody’s applying.” Porter and others are now wearing multiple hats at once, cooking, cleaning, working the cages to fill shifts that can’t be manned by permanent employees. He adds, “In 25 years here, I’ve never seen a labor drought like we have right now.”