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Employment, turnover rises at Rivers Casino & Resort

Employment, turnover rises at Rivers Casino & Resort

Operation holding job fair for various positions
Employment, turnover rises at Rivers Casino & Resort
Construction workers tend to the entrance of the Rivers Casino & Resort development on Nov. 9, 2016.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- After more than six months in business, total employment numbers and the turnover rate continue to climb at Rivers Casino & Resort.

More than 1,100 people are working at the casino and adjacent hotel as of about a week ago, according to New York State Gaming Commission records. That number nearly matches the predictions of casino officials, who said earlier this year they expected to hire about 1,150 workers in total to fill spots at the property.

"We're very proud of our team members and their tremendous contributions to our success," Mary Cheeks, Rivers Casino's general manager, said in a prepared statement.

If an applicant is hired to work at the casino, he or she must submit an application to the Gaming Commission, which licenses all employees at casinos, race tracks and other gaming facilities statewide.

Based on its most recent numbers, the commission has record of 1,075 employees working at the casino and 36 people working at The Landing Hotel, bringing the total to 1,111 staffers at the Schenectady property.

Hotel staff are not on Rivers’ payroll, but rather are employed by the management company in charge of the lodging operation, Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park said. However, they are still registered with the commission, he said.

The 1,111 is about a 200-person increase over the staffing levels two months after the casino opened. At that point, the hotel was still about three months from hosting its first guests.

The number of applications increased by about 350 in the same timeframe, based on Gaming Commission data. There have been 1,583 applications received as of about a week ago, with 32 denied because of a prior felony conviction or misrepresented criminal record, and another 25 applications still pending.

The turnover rate at the casino has also risen sharply since its opening months, though officials said it is still slightly below the industry average. As of about a week ago, 470 people have been terminated or resigned, according to the Gaming Commission.

That number, taken out of the 1,456 employment licenses awarded, results in a roughly 32 percent turnover rate, a bit below the 40 percent officials have cited as the industry norm.

Officials in Schenectady and at other Rush Street Gaming properties have said turnover is typical in the casino industry, as workers must deal with odd hours and clientele at a business that’s open around the clock, 365 days a year.

"Since opening in February, we've had turnover consistent with industry averages, as people new to gaming and hospitality learn the business," Cheeks said in a statement.

The employment numbers have been a sticking point for many advocates of recent upstate casino expansion. When asked by reporters last week about revenue falling short of projections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the numbers don’t bother him much. Instead, he said, he’s pleased with the resulting job creation, according to Spectrum News and other outlets.

Rivers Casino is hosting another job fair on site on Tuesday as part of continuous recruitment. Open positions include food and beverage servers, slot attendants, security workers, cashiers and cooks, according to a Facebook post.

The business last hosted a recruiting event in May, when it advertised open positions at the casino and the hotel, which at the time had yet to open.

If you go

What: Job fair
Where: Rivers Casino & Resort, 1 Rush St., Schenectady
When: Noon until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29

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