Rush Street Gaming Ups Minimum Pay to $15 Per Hour for Hundreds of Casino Workers

Posted on: June 7, 2021, 01:06h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2021, 09:43h.

Rush Street Gaming is increasing its hourly salary to $15 for non-tipped workers at Rivers Casinos. The rise comes as many gaming properties nationally apparently face a worker shortage, with casinos resuming operations following COVID-19 closings.

The labor shortage will not go into 2022
Greg Carlin, CEO of Rush Street Gaming, shown here. Carlin says increasing hourly wages of non-tipped casino workers is the right thing to do. (Image: CNBC)

“Clearly, the casinos are having a tough time hiring workers,” the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who follows the gaming industry, told when asked about the increases.

It seems that workers now have the upper hand and will wait for the best job that comes along,” McGowan added. “If they don’t have enough employees to service customers quickly, that would hurt their bottom line.”

But Greg Carlin, CEO of Rush Street Gaming, said in a statement that “paying a living wage is more than a recruitment strategy — it’s the right thing to do.”

The company also estimates that when adding in the value of other benefits, the employees receive another $10 an hour — making the effective hourly wage $25.

It appears at least several hundred Rivers Casinos employees will benefit from the higher hourly wages. For instance, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh has approximately 400 non-tipped hourly employees. In addition, Rivers Casino Philadelphia has about 200 non-tipped hourly workers. The increase will impact more than 100 employees at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Ill, too. Workers in Schenectady, N.Y. will also benefit.

In contrast, Rivers Casino workers who also earn tips currently receive more than $15 an hour, the company said.

Supply and Demand

Stephen M. Miller, director of research at UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, says current labor challenges faced by casinos are part of larger issues.

“They are finding it difficult to attract workers. So, higher wages is one solution,” Miller told

Miller explained that most of the discussion about the number of workers applying for jobs relates to the supply side of the labor market.

Workers are getting supplemental [COVID-19] unemployment compensation and just decide to stay at home, as the government benefit may actually exceed the pay from working,” Miller said. Workers also may need to stay home to supervise children or care for elderly parents.

But there are also demand-side issues, Miller said. “The demand is coming to the market all at one time and the market is having difficulty digesting the flow of job offers,” Miller said.

Those who used to work in the leisure and hospitality sectors may say to themselves, “Maybe I should not take the first job offer and look some more, because so many firms are hiring and I keep hearing about a labor shortage.”

Miller says negative effects will be short term in nature: The labor shortage will not go into 2022, he adds.

“Right now, there is pressure to raise the pay and benefits offered to find the needed workers,” Miller said. “The big issue is whether this change in pay and benefits is sustainable in the long run.”

Automation of Jobs

Also, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, casinos began automation of some leisure and hospitality sector jobs. “Self-serve kiosks and the like were coming online even before the pandemic,” Miller said.

“The pandemic may speedup the transition, but it did not cause the transition,” Miller added.

When asked for comment, Bethany Khan, a spokesperson for the Culinary Union, says gaming properties in Las Vegas “already pay much higher than $15 and have for years, because the Culinary Union has set an unrivaled standard in Nevada.”

She says the average Culinary Union member earns $26 an hour — including health care coverage and other benefits.

“We don’t see an employee shortage,” Khan further told “It’s more that employers haven’t been bringing workers back to work.”