Pennsylvania Casinos Work to Attract More Employees: Rivers in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Raise Minimum Wage

Posted By Kevin Shelly on June 10, 2021

Pennsylvania casinos hit the jackpot this spring with increased capacity and loosened COVID-19 restrictions. However, it hasn’t been all sunshine after the coronavirus pandemic caused PA casinos to close a third of the year in 2020 and revenue to drop 21%.

Like many other industries, especially those in hospitality and tourism, Pennsylvania casinos are facing a staffing shortage. To attract new employees, Rush Street Gaming‘s two Pennsylvania operations, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and Rivers Casino Philadelphia, hope money talks.

All Rush Street properties nationally will offer a $15 per hour minimum wage for non-tipped employees property-wide unless otherwise precluded by existing labor agreements.

Greg Carlin, CEO of Rivers Casino and Rush Street Gaming, explained in a press release:

“We believe that paying a living wage is more than a recruitment strategy—it’s the right thing to do. Our team members are committed to our success each and every day. This is just another way we return that commitment.”

Tipped employees at Rivers make at least $45k annually

Tipped employees at Rivers Casinos who earn an hourly rate plus tips already take home more than $15 per hour. For example, full-time dealers average a first-year income of between $45,000 and $50,000.

Rivers Casino offers a package of full and part-time coverages, including healthcare, life, and disability insurance, immediate 401(k) vesting, and tuition reimbursement.

Bud Green, assistant general manager of Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, a decade-long Rush Street employee, amplified the message:

“We’re proud to be an employer of choice in casino gaming. We offer job candidates family-sustaining wages, great benefits, and a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture.”

Rivers Casino Philadelphia’s new general manager Justin Moore started as a beverage server two decades ago in Nevada. He added:

“There’s never been a better time to join the gaming industry. It’s more than a job—it’s a career that can take you anywhere you want to go.”

With company-paid benefits, the $15 hourly wage value increases to approximately $25 per hour.

Rivers Casino Pittsburgh employs approximately 1,300 team members, with approximately 400 in non-tipped hourly positions. Rivers Casino Philadelphia staffs 1,200 team members, with 200 in non-tipped hourly positions.

Philadelphia ready to return to fun and games

About 60% of Pennsylvanians have received the first dose and about 56% are fully vaccinated. During a visit to Old City in Philadelphia over the weekend diners filled restaurants, a line wrapped around the front of The Franklin Fountain for ice cream and people enjoyed a beautiful summer night at the busy RiverRink Summerfest at Penn’s Landing.

People are also ready to return to fun and games inside of a casino at the slots, table games, visiting the BetRivers sportsbook, and enjoying dinner or listening to live music.

Most Pennsylvania casinos do not require fully vaccinated guests to wear masks.

Help Wanted everywhere, not just Pennsylvania casinos

But the $15 benchmark at all Rush Street properties still trails the May monthly average of $15.87 an hour for leisure and hospitality according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s hard to leave the house and not notice “Now Hiring” signs everywhere and even the promise of a sign-on bonus.

Wages ticked up a half a percent in May. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed the average hourly earnings grew nearly 3% for leisure and hospitality roles, which is where job growth has been strongest, between March and May.

Supplemental income benefits and a return to in-school teaching in late summer should alter conditions, but for now wage pressure seems likely to continue for the interim.

The unemployment rate reached pandemic-era low of 5.8%, with 496,000 fewer people considered unemployed.

The New York Times’ Binyamin Appelbaum tweeted:

“My main takeaway from this jobs report (as from the last one) is that you can’t just flip a switch and turn an economy back on. Recovery is messy and it’s just going to take more time than anyone would like.”

Jobs at Rivers Casino in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

In Philadelphia, Rivers is running a six-week Tables Games Certification program.

  • June 21, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. with an application deadline of June 17.
  • June 25, Friday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with an application deadline of June 22.

Walk-ins are held every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon and qualified candidates may receive on-the-spot job offers. Details are on the career website.

In Pittsburgh, a six-week Tables Game School begins on June 14 with a sign-up deadline of June 9. Additional sessions begin July 19 and August 20.

Pennsylvania casinos on hiring spree

The other PA casinos are also facing hiring challenges.

For instance, Hollywood Casino’s Poker Room remains closed for now as the Grantville casino works to fill positions.

All of Pennsylvania casinos’ open positions are listed on the casino’s career section of their website and/or employment websites like Indeed.

Sign-on promotions aren’t just for new casino players. A number of PA casinos are actively advertising sign-on bonuses for some positions.

  • Valley Forge Casino: Sign-on bonus of up to $1,500.
  • Hollywood Casino: $1,000 sign-on bonus
  • Hollywood Casino York: $1,500 hiring bonus for table games dealers
  • Mount Airy Casino: $500 sign-on bonus

Lead image via Dreamstime.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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