Dealers Disappearing, What Happened to all the Casino Workers?

Casino department employment in Nevada and on the Las Vegas Strip is trending downward but the decline began far earlier statewide than on the Strip.

Nevada peaked in 2001 with 59,908 employees in casino departments with non-restricted gaming licenses. By 2012, according to data from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, employment stood at only 43,454.

The center attributed this in part to a variety of labor-saving devices that "have made employees progressively more scarce on the floor." Slot machines that accept only cash and automated change machines come to mind.

But the last recession could be more directly to blame for the Strip's numbers, which peaked at 27,648 casino department workers in 2008. It has been mostly downhill from there, with only 23,524 employed last year, a 14.9 percent decline from the peak.

The gaming research center found that the average big casino on the Strip employed 3,909 workers in 1999 but only 3,729 in 2012. There were more employees involved in room and beverage service on average in 2012 than in 1999 but fewer working in gaming, food service and administration.

One has to go back to 1997 to find the employment peak on the Boulder Strip, when 3,810 gaming workers were employed. That number was down last year to 2,832, a 25.7 percent drop from the peak. On a positive note, the Boulder Strip employed more casino department employees in 2012 than in 2011, while the Las Vegas Strip and other casinos statewide continued to reduce positions.


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