Employment within the Gambling Industry in the USA
American’s gambling laws differ by state, meaning there’s no one size fits all approach to gambling in the US. As would be expected, trying to regulate such a contentious industry in a nation full of such great diversity in religions, opinions, nationalities and traditions is nearly impossible – there’s no way to satisfy everyone. Which is why it is left to each individual state to rule on the issue in the way that is best for their citizens. And that’s how you end up with a country where some states have no casinos at all, and others are famous the world over because of them.
Gambling law reform has been at the forefront of local – and national – politics over the last few years, as campaigners look at the way the industry is regulated around the world and seek to bring some well-tested improvements into their own states.
One of the most hotly contested recent issues is that of online gambling, something which is widely unsupported in the USA, despite being successful in other countries such as the UK. In states which have decriminalised gambling, there is a drive to embrace the online sector with the argument that it will have similar economic benefits to land-based gambling.
Land based casinos
In states where land-based casinos are legal the economy has been boosted significantly
Legal gambling is taxed, meaning that a certain percentage of the profits is cycled back into the community. This is obviously a great boost for the states which have embraced the industry, and it is not the only one. Like any other part of the leisure and entertainment industry, gambling establishments and websites provide much-needed jobs across a variety of roles from front of house to the backroom, plus all the HR and financial departments to manage the workforce. In 2017, the state of California employed 16,815 people alone in the gambling sector.
What could Texas learn from other markets?
Online gambling has been hugely profitable for the UK, providing jobs and a boost for the economy
By contrast, the number of people employed in the gambling sector in Texas is less than 3,000 of the 120,000 employees spread across the country. The state has some of the strictest laws on gambling across the USA, permitting mainly tribal casinos, charity and social games, the latter of which provide no regular employment or taxable state income. This means Texas could be missing out on a potentially profitable sector.
A country where legalised gambling works extremely well is in the UK. The industry is stringently regulated, with companies needing to apply for a license, whether they want to operate a land-based casino or simply a website. These licenses are only issued to businesses which sign up to adhere to the government’s rules on responsible gambling provision, taxation and activities.
The UK gambling industry currently employs nearly 107,000 people – almost as many as the entire USA, but in a country one third of the size of Texas and last year the industry recorded a gross gambling yield of £14.5 billion ($18.5 billion). Thanks to the reputability of the growing online industry, employment and revenue is increasing year on year, through quality sites like 888 Casino, a popular and acclaimed online casino in the UK.
The expansion into online sites has also meant that the variety of jobs offered is much greater. No longer reliant on the hospitality sector, online casinos require plenty of departments, from computer experts, security, analysts and web development teams, to PR and digital marketing professionals (SEO, SEM, Media buy, Campaign managers). It is an industry providing jobs in many of the most up-to-date sectors like technology and IT. This evolution means that gambling is one of the few industries that has managed to grow with the times. With traditional retail and agricultural roles falling foul of technological advancement, the Government need to be considering which industries are capable of compensating for lost roles, and the expansion of Texas’ gambling industry – which is something residents are demanding – could well be the solution to an upcoming problem.
Texas’ high unemployment rate
Cities like Austin in Texas could benefit from the economic boosts casinos bring to nearby areas
Let’s look at the facts and figures. Texas has an unemployment rate of 3.4%, with nearly half a million able residents out of work. The casinos of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana are within easy reach for many Texans and they’re frequently filled with residents. Louisiana has a similar number of private gambling establishments yet employs four times as many workers within the sector. The truth of the matter is that while Texas continues to refuse to stimulate its own gambling industry, it is only benefiting its neighbours and depriving its residents of jobs and tax dollars.
Oklahoma is home to some of the largest casinos in the Southern states. The Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville has over 600,000 square feet of casino floor. It also employs chefs, wait staff, entertainers, security, technicians and janitorial staff on a grand scale. It’s an extremely popular destination for Texans looking for a weekend of fun without heading too far from home. It also stands as a shining example of what could be built and run in-state, and the kind of boosts that could be offered to the economy as a result.
Economic returns need investment and any change in gambling laws in Texas might take a while to produce decent revenue. Current venues need to be upgraded and new ones built. But, these changes could have an immediate impact on unemployment levels by creating jobs in the manufacturing and planning sectors, which will filter through to other areas as businesses develop.
One of the most vocal arguments against changes to the laws has always been how the jobs in existing establishments will be affected – especially where the tribal casinos are concerned. But the UK model has shown that competition, especially amongst online providers, has only been a good thing. Competition stimulates the marketplace, encouraging business to act for the benefit of their employees and their customers, rather than in ways that only benefit the pockets of their CEOs.