New Yorkers still need employment, but he will talk with his legislative director before he reintroduces a bill allowing job seekers with criminal convictions to apply for work in the gaming industry, said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo.
Addabbo, D-Ozone Park, sponsored S1443B last year that sought to remove the “automatic disqualification” of would-be New York retail casino employees who have “a felony that does not involve public integrity, embezzlement, theft, fraud, or perjury.”
The New York State Legislature approved the bill, but Gov. Kathy C. Hochul vetoed it on Dec. 16, 2022.
The day before, Chris Gerlacher wrote for Bonus:
The positions former convicts will be eligible for include dealing, service work in food and beverage, and middle management.
Addabbo’s bill also specified that the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) could deny gaming facility and employee licenses on a case-by-case basis.
Addabbo hasn’t yet proposed a similar bill this year, but legislators just started the 2023 session yesterday in Albany.
In a phone interview with Bonus on Friday, Addabbo said New Yorkers need job opportunities and land-based casinos continue to need employees.
Casinos and Job Seekers With Criminal Convictions
When Addabbo introduced S1443B on Jan. 12, 2021, the chairman of the New York State Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee already knew that retail casinos were hurting for employees.
Talking to Bonus on Friday, Addabbo said he’s more concerned about employing New Yorkers, but the personnel shortage is also on his mind.
It seems it was last year, too. In the bill’s justification, Addabbo pointed out that the effort to help job seekers with criminal convictions took the form of proposed legislation every year since 2019.
Last year’s bill says:
[S1443B] Removes the absolute disqualification of certain applicants while maintaining the discretion of the Commission. This bill will also reduce or eliminate burdensome requirements on small businesses attempting to transact with a gaming facility.
Addabbo’s bill defines “small businesses” as “any non-gaming vendor providing goods or service[s] valued at” $25,000 or less and rendered during a 12-month period. Goods or services worth more would still be subject to license requirements.
Personnel Shortage Goes Beyond New York Retail Casinos
New York isn’t alone in retail casino worker shortages.
On April 14, 2022, U.S. News published this an Associated Press story written by Wayne Parry:
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.
Gaming executives told Parry that the Covid-19 pandemic cost them more than lost revenue.
The nonprofit representing the gambling industry, American Gaming Association (AGA), says the same on its Covid-19 Resources page.
The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered every U.S. casino in March 2020, preventing an estimated 616,000 casino gaming employees from being able to work. The subsequent two-month shutdown of the gaming industry led to $105 billion in lost economic activity and cost states more than $2 billion in lost gaming taxes alone, directly impacting 564 gaming communities across the country.
By the end of 2020, U.S commercial casinos had lost a cumulative 45,600 business days due to COVID-related closures – equivalent to 27% of the year – and the industry saw a 31% decline in revenue from 2019.
However, as Covid worries wane, gamblers are returning to casinos. With demand at an all-time high, AGA says New York commercial gaming facilities saw record revenue during Q3 2022.
So maybe 2023 is the year for job seekers with criminal convictions to get work from New York retail casinos. However, lawmakers must first introduce a bill aimed at doing so.