Mississippi Gaming Rebounds, But the Industry is Desperate for Workers

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Mississippi had a rough year last year, but things are finally returning to normal. The state’s gambling industry is seeing significant improvements as gamblers try to shake off the COVID-19 blues, but not everyone is as enthusiastic about venturing back out into public. While casinos are reporting record revenue, the gambling properties, as well as other hospitality companies, are struggling to fill open positions, according to the Sun Herald. Changes in benefits that could be coming soon might change that.

Mississippi Casinos Back to Normal

Mississippi was the first state to lift all COVID-19 restrictions at its casinos. Gamblers there had been more willing to deal with the risks of social conglomeration and, even last summer, revenue was approaching the level it was before the pandemic. Now, however, things are really taking off. In March, Mississippi casinos reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of over $248 million, the strongest return seen since 2009.

This is great news for a state that not only had to deal with COVID-19, but also storm threats last year. While Mississippi avoided serious damage from hurricanes that rolled through the Gulf of Mexico, there was isolated damage and flooding, and several properties were forced to shut down for a few days. With GGR picking up this year, the state can ramp up its post-2020 recovery efforts and look forward to greater growth.

Help Wanted, Apply Within

Despite casinos now operating at 100% capacity and more people out on the streets, casinos are desperate for employees. Hospitality companies across the state are holding job fairs, giving current employees referral bonuses to find new hires and pulling out their bags of tricks to attract new talent. The Beau Rivage held a job fair last week and, out of the 265 people who attended, 70 were hired on the spot – another 80 positions are still waiting to be filled.

The reasons for the number of open employment positions vary, from some individuals concerned still about COVID-19 and others not enticed by pay rates. However, the high demand for workers could help push up hourly wages and salaries as companies become more desperate to fill in the gaps. There’s another reason, as well, and this is going to change very soon. Mississippi has been giving $300 in unemployment aid each week to many residents, which is an incentive for many to stay at home as they receive $1,200 a month. That money is being cut off as of next month, which means many of the open positions are likely to be filled quickly.

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