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If you want a casino job, odds are on your side in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — As a casino dealer, Shamikah Townsend knows when the odds are in her favor. And they definitely are right now.

While working at one Atlantic City casino last year, she went to a job fair held by a different one, and was surprised at how instantly in-demand she was when the recruiter wanted to hire her as a craps dealer.

“She said, ‘I’ll pay you to move to Florida in two weeks,’” Townsend said. “I didn’t know craps, so I had to be honest and tell her, but I went out and I learned it.”

On Monday, Townsend made her move, getting hired on the spot at a job fair held by the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City.

Townsend is part of a great hiring wave taking place at casinos across the nation as the gambling halls compete to add staff while recovering from the coronavirus pandemic that drove customers away and led to staff reductions.

ut casinos are just one of many industries struggling to add new workers, and they find themselves competing with each other not only for casino workers, but for people with experience in the hotel, restaurant and tourism industries, to name just a few.

“Gaming is facing the same labor issues that we see across the broader economy,” said Casey Clark, senior vice president of the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group. “In our recent CEO survey, the labor shortage is a top concern across the country.

“Competition for talent is a huge impediment for growth, and we’re also experiencing an expansion of gaming with customer demand increasing,” he said. “Those things are problematic when they happen together.”

That has led to some innovative tactics, including the use of virtual reality goggles at some MGM Resorts International job fairs to let applicants experience what the job will be like before signing on the dotted line.

Atlantic City’s casinos are also talking with state government agencies about funding new transit options to get people to jobs at casinos from farther-out places. One possibility: something like the contract the Borgata had with a state transit agency in 2008 for a daily shuttle bus between its Atlantic City casino and Camden — an hour-long trip reaching clear across the state.

In Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas, an economic development official said last month more than 40,000 jobs have gone unfilled since the state’s casinos reopened after a temporary closure in 2020. During one job fair in February, Caesars Entertainment was looking to hire 500 people.

On Friday in Las Vegas, about 6,000 people are expected to attend a jobs fair in which 105 casino and other employers will offer 13,000 jobs.

“Work is available whether you are a first-time job seeker, changing fields, newly relocated to the area or retired and wish to return to work,” said Wanda Gispert, a vice president with MGM Resorts.

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