Category Archives: Coronavirus

Covid-19 Pandemic Expected to have Dangerously Impacted Super Bowl 54 Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the significant amount of gambling on the Super Bowl each year, and the covid pandemic is expected to impact Super Bowl 54 the most yet. When Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, sports betting was legalized in more states than ever, and the unique situation of the pandemic saw an increase in sports betting in general.  So it might not be surprising to learn that even though ratings and viewership were down for this year’s Super Bowl, the amount of gambling was at an all time high.  NBC News reports:

Even as Super Bowl LV’s TV audience declined, the amount of money wagered on the game skyrocketed in some states — especially in New Jersey, where gamblers doubled their action, regulators said.

The lure of a game featuring Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest of all time, and his heir apparent, Chiefs signal caller Patrick Mahomes, drew many casual bettors, regulators said. “I believe people love great sports no matter of a pandemic,” said Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association. “This epic GOAT-baby GOAT matchup would have been hyped the same, either way,” referring to the acronym for “greatest of all time.”

Gamblers were able to make their first legal Super Bowl bets in Washington, D.C., Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia. Illinois books accepted a whopping $45.6 million in the state’s first Super Bowl wagers, the Gaming Board reported. Meanwhile, Colorado gamblers placed $31.2 million on Sunday’s game, according to the Department of Revenue.

Gambling of this magnitude is expected to prompt many gambling problems and will impact high-risk problem gamblers the most.  PBS Online explains:

Some 26 million people wagered almost $7 billion dollars on last year’s Super bowl, according to the American Gaming Association. That was a 15 percent increase from the previous year. This year’s figures are expected to go even higher. Zion Market Research predicts that sports betting will increase from $104 billion in 2018 to a whopping $155 million in 2024.

These kinds of escalating figures put high-risk problem gamblers in even greater peril, says Scott Anderson, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Problem Gambling Treatment Coordinator. He works with the Ohio’s “Before You Bet” Campaign to attempt to identify and help problem gamblers. And, sports gamblers have been identified as one of the largest groups of addicted and potentially addicted gamblers. According to Ohio for Responsible Gambling, 24.4 percent of the at risk/problem gamblers are sports bettors.

Yet, Anderson says, that gambling and gambling situations are difficult to avoid. It is all around us from mobile phone day trading to state supported lotteries. Although problem gambling can be devastating to an individual’s personal, financial and professional life, it can sometimes be difficult to detect in its early stages. If someone is concerned about their gambling or the gambling of a friend or loved one, Anderson suggests that the person visit BeforeYouBet.org

Many think gambling on the Super Bowl is harmless fun, and for some, who do it legally, it could be that simple. However, the consequences for others can be extreme. A Fox News affiliate has reported that Super Bowl night is not only the biggest night for gamblers, but it also sees the most suicides as well. For those that don’t suffer the ultimate fate, they can still lose enough to cause irreparable harm to their finances and family. Fox Now online explains:

“Super Bowl is probably one of the biggest gambling days of the year,” said Gambling Addiction Counselor, Jim Harrison [a gambling counselor in Milwaukee.] He says the wagers placed on the Super Bowl are often not taken as seriously and can be seen as harmless and fun. “In reality it is betting, it is gambling,” said Harrison. Those compulsive gamblers see it as a day to make up for other sports losses this season.

Harrison says it’s not harmless at all for those with an addiction — betting is done with bookies and online and it could bring losses. “If it causes family problems, certainly financial problems,” said Harrison. “I’ve had clients who have literally lost over $300,000 gambling,” said Harrison. The Super Bowl can bring losses to those betting on it all, and it can be tempting to those dealing with gambling addiction.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Covid-19 Guidelines lower Las Vegas Casino Occupancy to 25%

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing efforts to ensure covid-19 isn’t being spread through mass gambling activities.  Casinos have received tremendous criticism for not taking the popper precautions, both to protect the public, and to protect those workers at those operating casinos.  Employees have had to sue or act as whistleblowers to expose the labor issues seen in various casinos.  Most recently, there was criticism over Vegas casinos entwined in properly reporting key information to the public.  So its no surprise that this industry in particular is looked at as playing a more critical role in the spread of Covid-19.  As a result, new guidelines have been passed that limit the occupancy further in Las Vegas casinos.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

In a Sunday press conference, Sisolak said effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, occupancy limitations at casinos and their bars and restaurants will be reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent. Sisolak said he has had conversations with “most gaming operators” in the last 24 hours, and said the full force of the Nevada Gaming Control Board will be behind the implementation and enforcement of the new requirements. He added that if casinos do not follow the new requirements, “they will suffer the consequences.”

Newly-appointed Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said the state’s gaming regulatory body will vigorously enforce the new gaming floor occupancy restrictions among the state’s licensees. “The more successfully Nevada mitigates the current spread of COVID over the next several weeks, the more likely we are to experience a complete return to current gaming floor occupancy percentages at that point” he said. The Nevada Gaming Commission already has acted on nine complaints brought by the Control Board against licensees since late July.

A spokesperson for Caesars Entertainment Inc. said the company will comply with Sisolak’s orders. Its restaurants and bars will remain open and continue to offer to-go options, and guests at most of its Nevada resorts will have the option to order pick up or delivery to their hotel Room. Wynn Resorts Ltd. spokesman Michael Weaver said the company will also implement the directives of the pause. “We believe the Governor made a prudent decision that will protect public health,” he said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Nationwide Smoking Ban in Casinos Pushed by Advocacy Group to Protect Public Against Covid-19

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent smoking ban proposals for casinos as a means to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  These efforts have been fairly localized, but the impact of such a policy is self-evident.  Covid-19 is widely spread through air particulates and exhaling smoke puts many particulates and germs in the air.  The extension of such a policy on a national level, could therefore have tremendous benefit in preventing the spread of the virus, especially in gambling venues that haven’t decreased the volume of gamblers in the facilities by a large about or those that force smokers to congregate in one area, thus drastically increasing the consolidation of germs in the air.  An advocacy group has taken note and is pushing the policy on a national level.  An online source explains: 

The largest advocacy group in the nation that seeks to ban smoking in casinos said Thursday operators should be denied any federal COVID-19 relief funds unless the gaming industry goes smoke-free. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights took that message to the American Gaming Association ahead of the Washington D.C. trade organization’s semi-annual board meeting, scheduled for Friday.

“We take issue with casinos potentially receiving such relief funding, (which) is necessitated by a pandemic involving respiratory issues, while still permitting an activity – indoor smoking – that promotes the spread of COVID-19,” Cynthia Hallett, CEO of the Berkley, California-based Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, wrote in the letter. She wrote that Miller should use his “leadership position to make the argument to your members about why smoke-free indoors is a smart policy.”

In their letter, they not only point out the clearly obvious hazards to allowing smoking indoors during a pandemic, but also the need for a strong enforcement measure, including holding back Covid-19 relief funding if facilities fail to protect the public though a smoking ban,  The online source continues: 

In her letter to Miller, Hallett wrote that “industry arguments against going smoke-free have grown stale and do not withstand scrutiny.” Casinos throughout the U.S. have reopened under various COVID-19 health and safety guidelines calling for cleaning and social distancing protocols. Most properties require everyone on the casino floor – employees and guests alike – to wear masks or facial coverings at all times, unless eating or drinking.

“Guests who wear a mask but are allowed to remove it while inside to smoke are blowing potentially hazardous droplets into shared air for fellow guests and gaming employees to breathe in, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19, amongst other health risks,” Hallett wrote. “No credible public health official would approve of this, but it’s standard operating procedure in most casinos.”

he said the letter was also shared with members of the Congressional Gaming Caucus and other congressional members who are leading COVID-19 relief negotiations. “We request that you only accept taxpayer dollars, which we agree are needed to sustain gaming jobs and business operations, if casino operators agree to adopt a smoke-free indoor policy that would help to keep employees and guests safe,” Hallett wrote.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Local Councilman Introduces Casino Smoking Ban Ordinance for Missouri Facility

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent decision of many casinos to, at least temporarily, support a ban on smoking in their facilities.  Covid-19 is clearly an airborne virus and not only do smokers need to remove their masks to smoke, but the act of smoking clearly demands they blow the smoke out and away from them, contaminating the air all around them.  A Kansas City area councilman has offered an ordinance to effectively ban smoking as the casino and local health officials, according to the councilman,  don’t seem to want to put public safety over monetary gain.  An online source reports:

St. Joseph City Councilman PJ Kovac is introducing an ordinance that would effectively ban smoking inside the St. Jo Frontier Casino during the coronavirus pandemic, a model hundreds of casinos have followed. Kovac also accused the city health director of turning a “blind eye” to the health of those who visit the casino. “You know, we don’t want to hurt our revenue,” Kovac said sarcastically, referring to tax dollars the city receives from the casino. “So is it about money or is it about health? To all the other businesses, it’s about health.”

Kovac said he has witnessed casino patrons removing their masks indoors while smoking in close proximity to others. “A guy rolled up right next to me smoking the entire time,” he said. “He’s blowing smoke right at me, then he gets done, cigarette in his mouth with his mask down, goes all the way up the casino floor.” Bradley told News-Press NOW that health department staff has visited the casino in regards to enforcement of the mayor’s mask order, but that no one has been fined or sanctioned.

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Gaming Commission, the state agency that generally regulates casinos, said that it’s up to individual cities to regulate smoking inside the establishments. According to CDC Gaming Reports,125 casinos across the country that previously allowed smoking have banned the practice during the coronavirus pandemic, though it’s unclear how many of those will make the ban permanent.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Harsh Criticism over Las Vegas Covid-19 Workplace Exposure Reports Coming to a Halt

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing impact of coronavirus in the Las Vegas area.  First the area was reluctant to shut down with the rest of the country.  Then they shut down and there was a dispute between the mayor and Nevada Governor over opening. A report also came out that showed those traveling to the area were potentially responsible for a super Covid-19 super spreader event.  Then there was a rushed opening that caused lawsuits due to the lack of proper protective equipment.  Now, it’s been reported that state officials have decided to simply stop sharing specific coronavirus exposure data.  This data has been critical to proper reporting and understanding of these situations.  The Review Journal explains:  

This summer, nearly a third of a local manufacturing company’s workforce caught COVID-19. But the case cluster did not become public knowledge until the Review-Journal obtained government reports on disease investigation analyses through a records request in mid-September.

The reports revealed the first detailed look at possible disease spread in Clark County other than at communal living facilities. Listed were businesses most frequently visited by infected people during the time in which they probably caught COVID-19, although the reports did not conclusively identify where transmission occurred. Now, health officials say they no longer will compile the reports even as new cases are again rising in Nevada, effectively severing the public’s access to the exposure data.

The state’s position is puzzling as they claim having specific contact data wouldn’t provide much data given the entire community is experiencing exposure and virus spread.  They believe the reports simply  demonstrate which businesses have the most foot traffic, but those specific communities know how to manage their own situation. Of course these reports pointed to the casinos, so it’s possible to conclude they are simply attempting to keep people away from such information so they continue to show up and gambling.  It also pointed to other key facilities like the Amazon Warehouse.  Naturally, this decision drew harsh criticism.  The Review Journal continued:  

Nevada Press Association Executive Director Richard Karpel criticized the decision, saying it was a step backward in government transparency. Before the reports were released, state health officials had only generally referenced “backyard barbecues” and “family gatherings” as primary causes of new infections. “It’s not all about mandates, directives and closures,” Karpel said of the state’s COVID-19 response. “It’s about giving people information and allowing them to make decisions on their own.”

The reports also pointed to nonpublic-facing businesses and job sites in Clark County, like Spacecraft Components Corp. and Amazon warehouses. The massive online retailer announced this month that almost 20,000 of its U.S. employees have tested positive since March. Nevada had the third-highest rate of cases among the company’s workers, compared with other states, according to a report released by Amazon. Many of the ill employees at Spacecraft Components Corp. were family members who shared households, said company controller Holly Wiseman.

Key regulatory groups need access to this information.  It was initially buried and only known after the Review Journal publicly published them.  But those responsible for workplace safety of casino employees can’t receive this critical data and cutting off the reports prevents journalists from getting this critical information to those in need.  The Review Journal concluded:  

What did regulatory agencies know? Nevada OSHA, responsible for enforcing workplace safety guidelines, began using the reports after the Review-Journal published them to help the agency prioritize where it conducts inspections, agency spokeswoman Teri Williams wrote in an email.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board, which has issued complaints against hotel-casinos for not following COVID-19 guidelines, “does not receive or track COVID information at casinos,” spokesman Michael Lawton wrote in an email on Sept. 18. Lawton did not respond to a request for comment this week.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleges Caesars Rushed to Reopen during Covid-19 Pandemic Which Violated California Labor Law

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing impact the coronavirus has had on the gambling industry.  The pandemic has been understandably disruptive, but the goal of the government and community leaders has been to balance keeping people safe and preventing the spread of the virus against keeping the economy from collapse and keeping people employed where possible.  Unfortunately, the gambling industry isn’t in any way viewed as essential, which places its employees in an incredibly tough position.  However, maintaining a balance isn’t just about doing what’s morally correct, but it’s also about following the various laws of each jurisdiction.  This year has already seen a casino close properties it had just opened after not having or enforcing proper PPE equipment which lead to an employee’s death.  Additionally, a suit was filed by Las Vegas hospitality workers claiming they didn’t have proper protections. Now, a new southern California whistleblower lawsuit has been filed by a casino executive that alleges he was forced to quit for opposing a rush to reopen.  The San Diego Union – Tribune reports:

A Harrah’s Resort Southern California  executive who resigned before the casino reopened in May has filed a lawsuit against the parent company, Caesars Enterprise Services, alleging the tribal casino rushed to reopen despite safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darrell Pilant, who had served as the senior vice president and general manager, worked for the company for 23 years. He alleges that he was forced to resign  from his position because he said he didn’t want to follow the direction of his employer to reopen because doing so posed a threat to employee and customer health, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 31.

This suit isn’t simply about an executive being pushed out of the organization.  This suit alleges that Caesars has violated California laws aimed at protection in order to place business and profits first.  The The San Diego Union – Tribune continues:

The lawsuit, which declares it is a whistleblower action, claims that in reopening during the pandemic, the casino violated the California Labor Code and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for the health and safety of employees.

“Pilant, among other things, alleges that Caesars constructively terminated his employment because he opposed and refused to carry out Caesars’ directive to reopen Harrah’s Resort Southern California,” the lawsuit states. “Rather than carry out the illegal and dangerous directive of his employer, Mr. Pilant had no alternative but to resign his long-time employment with Caesars.”

Harrah’s Resort Southern California is operated by Caesars Enterprise Services, but is owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and located on its 5,000-acre reservation in North County. Tribal Chairman Bo Mazzetti said profits from the casino make up about 85 percent of the tribe’s budget during an interview in April.

“The disregard for public health and safety outlined in this lawsuit is consistent with the arrogance we’ve grown to expect from many tribal casino operators in California,” Kirkland said. “By remaining open while other indoor recreational facilities have been forced to close, they have demonstrated a lack of concern for the health of their employees, guests and the surrounding communities in the pursuit of slot machine profits.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


NFL Player uses Coronavirus Loans Illegally at Hard Rock Casino in FL

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various complications and disruptions of how Covid-19 is impacting the gambling industry.  Some of those stories have also involved criminal activity ranging from illegal gambling venues that opened up after regulated casinos were shut down due to lockdown, to casinos not enforcing new guidelines to not providing the proper mandated PPE equipment for employees.  Now a high profiled loan fraud case is front and center as an NFL player has taken money from the government and spent it at the Hard Rock Casino in Florida.  A local news agency reports:

Investigators say that Josh Bellamy, a wide receiver from St. Petersburg who was released by the New York Jets earlier this week, was among a group of people who filed fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for more than $24 million.

He has been charged in South Florida federal court with wire and bank fraud in addition to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Bellamy allegedly got more than a million dollars for his own company, Drip Entertainment.

Investigators say he then bought $104,000 worth of luxury goods from designers like Dior and Gucci. They also allege that he spent more than $62,000 of the loan at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Broward.

Bellamy is accused of trying to get PPP loans for family members and Associates. The payments were part of the CARES Act, a federal law enacted in late March to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Cell Phone Data seemingly indicates travel to Las Vegas for Gambling might be a major contributor for continued Covid- 19 Spread

Casino Watch Focus has reported on all the various impacts coronavirus has had on gambling this year.  The country has gone through one lock down and many areas regressed back after initial attempts to reopen.  Las Vegas has gone through its own reopening experience and not without controversy.  Recently, the city was seen as providing regulations that set the maximum occupancy of churches at only 50 total people, while allowing companies like casinos to set their  occupancy to be set at a whopping 50%.  Beyond the calls and concerns for double standards, many wondered how the draw of this much gambling capacity would impact those coming to the area and then traveling back home, potentially with Covid-19 in tow to spread back home.  New Cellphone data was examined and concludes there is a potentially huge impact to prolonging the pandemic.  The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

An analysis of smartphone data during four days, a Friday to Monday in mid-July, revealed how most of the U.S. is connected to Las Vegas – a likely hot spot of COVID-19 spread.

During that time frame, about 26,000 devices were identified on The Strip, according to data mined by the companies X-Mode and Tectonix. Some of those smartphones then traveled to every state on the mainland except Maine.

The cellphone analysis highlights a reason the virus keeps spreading and shows how travel to Las Vegas could be fueling the pandemic, according to health officials.

“In this rush to reopen and reposition the economic activities, all we’ve been doing is spreading and amplifying the reach of this disease,” said Oscar Alleyne, an epidemiologist and chief program officer with the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Six public health experts told ProPublica that casinos are a high-risk environment for COVID-19 – “a feeding ground for COVID-19. “There is a serious opportunity for spreading the virus, especially for people who are mildly sick or don’t know they’re sick,” said Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We’ve seen big outbreaks kicked off by these types of situations.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

 


Florida Casinos and Legislators Face Tough Decisions About how to Provide Proper Safety During the Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic’s impact on gambling.  Many casinos are dealing with safety concerns in different ways.  It was reported that an Ariona casino closed after an employee died from Covid-19.  Las Vegas saw an immediate spike in coronavirus cases after it reopened and is facing a lawsuit by the workers over safety precautions.  In Florida, where the state saw a dramatic increase in cases as they opened, casinos are employing different levels of strategies to deal with the pandemic.  An an online source explains, one Florida casino is sticking with basic protections with some added plexiglass to help stop the spread of the deadly virus: 

The Seminole Exhausting Rock Lodge & Casino Tampa opened its doorways at7 p.m. — albeit beneath new pointers that promote social distancing and hygiene.

Masks or different face coverings are required and all people getting into the premises will get their temperature taken.

One other noticeable adaptation to the coronavirus age is using plexiglass limitations to divide gamblers and sellers at poker and desk video games.

A much harder decision was made in Miami, where record setting positive tests hit the Sunshine State hard.  Given the nature of gambling as an entertainment venue and not an essential business, it was reported that that the only proper course of action was a full shutdown: 

Casino operator Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has been forced to close its Miami casino less than one month after it reopened the property following a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

On Monday, CDI announced that the “temporary suspension” of operations at its Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, Florida, in keeping with the order issued by Miami-Dade Mayor *Carlos Gimenez* to shut all local entertainment venues following a surge in local COVID-19 infections.

On July 2, with Florida’s new COVID-19 infection count hitting a daily record of 10,109 – which was topped two days later with 11,458 new cases – Mayor Gimenez announced that he was “rolling back the reopening” of all four casinos in the region – Hialeah Park, Casino Miami, Magic City and Calder – until further notice. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Casinos Employ Bans on Smoking as a Means of Reducing Spread of Coronavirus, but How Long Will They Last?

Casino Watch Focus has reported the many ways Covid-19 is impacting the gambling industry.  As the amount of infected and subsequent death toll rises, more and more are starting to tread the virus with respect and make adjustments to help ensure safety.  One idea has been to ban smoking.  A large number of casinos have instituted such bans, though it’s unclear how long they will last.  It of course adds to a greater debate about public safety in general and the responsibility of casinos to protect non-smokers from harm.  An online source explains:

More than 125 casinos and dozens of other gaming sites across the U.S. that allowed smoking in pre-COVID days are now nonsmoking. That raises a question: Will it last?

Some casinos plan to lift their ban when face masks or other coronavirus safety measures are no longer required. Others see this as a good time to test whether one of the last bastions of legalized smoking in a public space can give up the habit. Advocates for smoke-free gaming say the industry sends a mixed message about protecting customers and employees if it establishes extensive coronavirus safeguards, then allows the hazards of secondhand smoke.

How gamblers and the industry accept smoke-free play as a public-health measure could help determine whether more casinos join the vast majority of workplaces and businesses where smoking is prohibited.

“The casino industry for years and years has worried about it,” said Conrad Granito, general manager of Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, Washington. “You’re definitely seeing changes, but there’s still a core group (of gamblers who smoke).”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Las Vegas Employees Suing over Unsafe Work Conditions during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments surrounding the gambling industry during the coronavirus pandemic.  Most recently, after shutting down due to the virus, Las Vegas opened back up and a record number of Covid-19 cases were reported.  Casino employees have been exposed to a rash of gamblers flooding back to casinos and in Arizona, a casino re-closed after an employee caught the virus and died.   The lack of PPE requirements were at the center of the situation and employees have taken note.  Citing similar types of work place issues, Las Vegas workers are trying to protect themselves anyway they can, including using the courts.  As Fox Business reports, a new lawsuit has been filed:

Las Vegas Strip hospitality workers filed a lawsuit against casino operators on Monday accusing the companies of failing to protect employees from Covid-19, one of the first efforts to hold employers legally responsible for infections as cases in the U.S. surge.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against the owners of Harrah’s, MGM Grand and Bellagio casinos, says the company didn’t immediately shut down food-and-beverage outlets and other areas after learning of positive cases, didn’t immediately inform employees when co-workers tested positive, and didn’t adequately contact-trace before allowing colleagues of infected employees to return to the job.

Culinary Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, through their joint bargaining agency, filed the lawsuit against Harrah’s Las Vegas LLC, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corp., and The Signature Condominiums LLC at the MGM Grand and Bellagio LLC, subsidiaries of MGM Resorts International.

The lawsuit said unsafe working conditions violate the unions’ contract. The unions represent 60,000 hospitality workers. “We’re not just numbers,” Mr. Zermeno said at a news conference Monday. “We’re families also. We’re human. I just want them to care, honestly.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Gambling Hotline Reveals Crisis Experienced by those During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing complexities of Covid-19’s impact to the gambling industry.  Beyond the obvious loss of revenue revenue and shut downs, coronavirus’ impact reaches problem gamblers as well. The current climate has created a perfect storm of issues that can drive people to gamble and with the accessibility of online gambling to many, the threat of devastation is very real.  A Florida gambling hotline is helping to make the general public aware of such issues.  An online source explains:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape life as we had once known it, closures of traditional brick-and-mortar gambling facilities coupled with social distancing restrictions and requirements have resulted in dramatic shifts in gambling behaviors along with serious negative consequences as reported by contacts to Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine in March and April.

According to Jennifer Kruse, Executive Director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), “Of particular concern with recent COVID-19 closures and quarantines, is the associated increase inproblem-gambling-related risk factors that occur as a result, such as loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and increased use or abuse of substances. The severity of problems reported by individuals contacting the FCCG’s 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine in March and April illustrate the increased occurrence of these associated risk factors and resulting, exacerbated problem-gambling-related impacts experienced during this time.”

During the pandemic, the economic consequences have hit the country hard, and as result of the government mandated business closures, economic stimulus checks have been sent out to help keep people on their feet.  This situation can be viewed as a windfall of money to some, which has prompted calls for gambling to be shut down during this time.  Many will view the stimulus check as a way to gamble and increase their financial situation.  This big win mentality can trigger many stressors that exacerbate the problems leading to troubling and fatal consequences .  The source continues:

Receiving a stimulus check may also be viewed as an unexpected “big win” for at-risk and problem or recovering gamblers. Money lost gambling can lead to financial difficulties, which can trigger associated stressors that interfere with relationships, mental, and even physical health. These experiences can leave problem gamblers and their loved ones feeling discouraged and hopeless about the future.

“When a problem gambler feels they have lost everything and sees no possibility to gain or recover, suicidal ideation and/or attempts are very real possibilities. This is unfortunately what we have seen with contacts to the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine in April, with more than one in five (21%), revealing current or recent suicidal feelings or thoughts due to their gambling problem,” explained Kruse. 

“The share of callers referred to Crisis Lines in April (23%), also rose significantly by more than double, with increased levels of hopelessness and desperation reported, due to gambling-related financial and mental health repercussions brought about by the COVID-19 crisis,” Kruse noted, as cause for additional concern.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated pockets of impact, but rather spread all over the state.  Access to online gambling and the lottery means that closed brick and mortar casinos don’t shield those around the state from gambling’s destructive impact.  Help is available and should be sought out.  The source concludes:

The data reported during the month of April by 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine contacts, reveals that help seekers this month were from areas all over the state and were primarily from those engaged in the forms of gambling activities still available during quarantine and social distancing restrictions, Online Gambling and the Lottery. This illustrates the effects that gambling addiction can have on any community in the state, and further highlights that those associated impacts will correlate with what gambling options are accessible or available in a particular area.

At a time of uncertainty while the whole world anxiously awaits the return to “normal life,” whatever that may be, reassurance for anyone negatively impacted by a gambling problem that resources are available and accessible through Florida’s 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine has never been more important. “Gambling addiction is treatable, and population-specific programs and services for gamblers and their loved ones are accessible any time of the day or night, any day of the year.

The FCCG’s 24-hour confidential and multilingual HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter,” concluded Kruse.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Arizona Casino Operator Closes Three Properties after Covid-19 Death of Employee – Lack of mandated PPE requirements for gamblers cited

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing impacts seen by Covid-19.  Las Vegas, a city built around casinos and gambling, set records for coronavirus cases when they partially opened, prompting the Governor to claim the city wasn’t ready to move to additional phases and safety had to be paramount.  They had very strict rules for personal protective equipment (PPE) and sterilization techniques for dice, chips and money handling in general.  Even still, they saw record case increases.  Now imagine if such stringent rules weren’t in place.  Unfortunately for one family, they didn’t have to imagine, as they lived through it when Arizona casinos opened with few safety measures in place, and and employee died from Covid-19 complications. A local Arizona source reports:

As of 2 a.m. Thursday, Gila River Hotels & Casinos shuttered all three of its properties for two weeks amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Arizona. Leaders at Gila River Hotels & Casinos declined The Arizona Republic’s repeated requests to confirm the number of employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, saying that they will not disclose the information to “protect the privacy” of their workers. The announcement comes a week after a security guard at Lone Butte Casino died of complications related to COVID-19, according to his family.

Washington, who lived in Chandler, had returned to work in mid-May. His daughter, Lina Washington of Sacramento, said he was immediately concerned about safety measures at the casino. “The day after reopening, he was like, ‘Lina, it was awful, it was horrible. The line was around the corner. … Eighty percent of the people weren’t wearing masks,’” Lina Washington said.

Unlike some other casinos in the Phoenix area, Gila River Hotels & Casinos were only requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment. Customers were encouraged, but not mandated, to wear masks. Lina Washington said this left her father, who was diabetic and had recently beaten prostate cancer, exposed.

During the two week closure, casino officials will “reassess its current safety standards” after evaluating its safety plan with the Gila River Indian Community Council and receiving “feedback from its community and team members.”

This situation highlights the severity of the pandemic.  Too many people are dismissive of sound medical recommendations to do something as simple as wear a mask because they don’t view this as anything but a type of flu or a disease that won’t impact them.  A mask isn’t 100% effective of course, but it significantly reduces the spread of the virus and it’s one of the simplest recommendations that the casinos and other businesses can require for the proper protection of their employees and the community at large.  The worker’s daughter spoke to a local television program and helped cast the appropriate light on this pandemic’s severity:

In her grief and rage, Washington is calling out Gov. Doug Ducey and holding leadership accountable for what she views as a failure to protect Arizona’s most vulnerable residents from the pandemic. People like her 68-year-old father, who was diabetic and a cancer survivor. “This is very real,” she said. “This is not something where the elderly and vulnerable are disposable. This is not natural selection. These are people, these are parents, these are grandparents.”

Coronavirus cases are surging in Arizona; the rate of positive cases is one of the highest in the world right now. Gov. Ducey is coming under fire for not taking more aggressive steps to stem the infection’s spread, such as requiring the use of masks. “I don’t want anyone to have to experience (this) because of the ignorance and negligence and hubris of people who don’t believe this is real.” 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Las Vegas Sees Record Covid-19 Cases after Reopening City & Casinos

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the impact the coronavirus shut-downs on the gambling industry.  The entire country has experienced vast closure in most areas of business, but it clear that tourism and gambling feeds certain cities like Las Vegas.  It was reported that the City Mayor and State Governor were at odds over when and how Vegas should reopen. But most of the country has been worked on reopening plans and Vegas was no different. Unfortunately, even with various safety measures in place to help gamblers prevent the spread of Covid-19, it would appear those efforts haven’t been enough to hold back an explosion of new cases.  Forbes reports:

Two weeks after the state’s casinos, restaurants and gyms reopened at a limited capacity, Nevada and Las Vegas reported their largest single-day increases in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, joining at least five cities and states that have paused reopening plans amid record new infections.

National and local health authorities have warned that social distancing complacency during the reopening will lead to a further influx of new cases and that increased testing isn’t solely responsible for these higher numbers.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state is “not ready” to advance to Phase 3 of reopening as coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continue to spike. “We’re not in a post-COVID time,” Gov. Sisolak said while addressing Nevada residents on Monday evening. “Now is not the time to abandon these protective measures. It is the time to double down on them. We can only stay open if we stay safe.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Missouri Casino Expansion via Lake of the Ozark Bill Dies – Initiative Petition to bypass the Legislators Seems Likely

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts at legalizing casinos near Osage Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The Missouri constitution very clearly limits casino gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but attempts have been made for over a decade to expand gambling to that part of the state.  New attempts have been made, but those legislative efforts appear to have come to an end, leaving an initiative petition as the new driving effort.  A local new source reports:

Hopes for a casino at the Lake of the Ozarks have been dealt a serious blow. Missouri House Joint Resolution 87, which could have paved the way for a possible gambling boat on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, has succumbed to the woes of COVID-19.

“It’s dead,” HJR 87 sponsor and proponent Rep. Rocky Miller said this week. “I would have liked for a possible casino to go through the existing proven structure, but I am fairly certain a Ballot Initiative Petition process will begin now.”

In this scenario, a ballot initiative would need to get the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot, and then the ballot petition would need to win at the polls.  The last ballot initiative that passed was reportedly due, in large part, to the cap of 13 casinos in the state.  Its unclear if there is actual support to amend the constitution once again to allow 14, 15 or even 16 casinos in Missouri.  An online source explains:

Osage River Gambling had already been working on changing Missouri law to bring a casino (or three) to Lake of the Ozarks, via a Citizen’s Initiative Petition (CIP). A CIP would bypass the Missouri legislature and put a constitutional amendment straight to the voters… The CIP would also seek to add three new casino licenses to the current state maximum, bringing it up to 16.

It’s a plan built for high-rollers: the CIP will cost $1 million, the group expects. But they already have the money set aside. They have also polled the ballot language. “It passed easy: 67 percent,” Hand said. That was with the addition of the Osage River and no new licenses, though; investors expect a CIP’s passage to become tougher with the addition of new licenses. Gaming companies with existing Missouri casinos would oppose it.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION