Mississippi Casino Employees Report Lax COVID-19 Standards to Gaming Commission

Posted on: August 20, 2020, 07:16h. 

Last updated on: August 21, 2020, 11:06h.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission heard testimony on Thursday from casino employees who say that their employers aren’t properly following COVID-19 protocols.

Mississippi casino workers union COVID-19
A casino patron identified as Paul O. poses next to a slot machine at the IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi, MS after winning over $13,000 on Aug. 2, 2020. (Image: @IPBiloxi/Twitter)

Casino workers union Unite Here Local 23 raised the complaints, which were similar to reports made by employees at Atlantic City and Las Vegas resorts.

Mississippi Employees Test Positive

The union reported that 10 workers from the Beau Rivage Casino and five more from the IP Casino — both in Biloxi — have tested positive for the coronavirus.

At Thursday’s hearing, two casino employees testified about concerns they have over how the resorts are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. IP Casino guest room attendant Carolyn Ford told the commission that the resort had asked her to work even as she was waiting on coronavirus test results to come back.

“On Thursday, they were like, ‘Can I come back to work?’ But they hadn’t gotten my results yet,” Ford said. “They said, ‘Can you come back Friday?’ And I was like, ‘No, I can come back Saturday.’ The nurse called me and told me I was positive. What if I had went back to work? I could have spread it to my coworkers.”

IP Casino told Ford that they had accidentally called her to come in early, she told television station WXXV News 25. But she said she found that unlikely.

The union also showed the gaming commission a survey of workers at the Beau Rivage and IP Casino. According to that poll, 70 percent of workers report that casino guests are rarely following social distancing guidelines at the resorts.

Union Wants Transparency

The Beau Rivage stated the casino had a seven point safety plan and ensured that every employee was thoroughly trained, in a statement touting their health and safety efforts.

The union feels that Mississippi casinos should take more active measures to protect their employees.

“We have to make sure we are having continuous health and safety meetings every other week,” Unite Here Local 23 president Marline Patrick said via television station WXXV. “So, we don’t feel like the company is being transparent, as someone becomes positive or that they test positive or that they are doing contract tracing. So, it can trickle down to many workers, that can trickle down to the guest.”

Employees across the gaming industry have raised concerns about COVID-19 safety protocols as casinos have begun to reopen across the United States.

In Atlantic City, Unite Here Local 54 claimed that Caesars Entertainment was actively ignoring at least some of New Jersey’s mandated health and safety guidelines. Meanwhile, Las Vegas Culinary Union employees filed a lawsuit against MGM Resorts International over safety issues, though the two sides reached a settlement earlier this month.