How US Minimum Wage Increases Could Raise Gambling Costs In Vegas, Atlantic City And Elsewhere

Casinos may need to increase the costs of gambling for the consumer, in order to meet new minimum wage requirements for 2022


Government plans to raise the minimum wage across as many as 25 states in 2022 could have an impact on America’s gambling industry and potentially make wagering more expensive.

The US economy has flatlined in recent months thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and president Joe Biden’s struggles to pass his $1.75tn spending bill.

The president’s inability to convince a Senate that is split 50/50 to vote through the bill is leading to concerns of inflation hitting the American economy in 2022.

That in turn has led to some states and counties to decide it is time to raise their minimum wage to as high as $15 an hour – a jump, they hope, that will be in line with inflation forecasts.

And this is certainly good news for employees working at the lower end of the casino industry. In particular, it appears as though cashiers and dealers are set to benefit from the change in legislation.

How Much Are Cashiers Paid At Casinos

According to the most recent data on cashiers’ casino pay, money handlers and booth operators at casinos earn on average $13.99 an hour across the US.

This is lower than similar roles undertaken in the hotel industry ($14.45 an hour) and sporting events industry ($14.95). However, it is still more lucrative than working for local government ($11.90) and civic organizations ($13.16). 

The highest annual salaries for these roles are found in Washington (​$35,880​), Texas ($34,530​), Michigan (​$33,220​), New Jersey (​$32,170​) and Connecticut (​$31,510​). Note that Nevada is not among this top list.

Meanwhile, how much dealers are paid at casinos is actually less than cashiers.

In 2019 the average wage across the US was $11.53 an hour for dealers. However, this doesn’t include tips, which likely push a dealer’s overall salary higher than those of cashiers.

Will Casino Fees Rise?

An increase in the minimum wage for cashiers and dealers, as well as cleaning staff, bar staff and other employees contracted either directly or via a contractor, will likely lead to casino costs rising.

This comes at a time when casinos across the country are reducing their staff numbers because of coronavirus and the investment in efficiencies. Cashless casinos, for example, have reduced the need for cashiers.

Of course, a rise in minimum wage costs could then be passed on to the customer.

Casinos pay a gambling tax on their revenues and players can also be taxed on their profits, but in both instances the government is the benefactor of the tax.

So we’re not likely to see a tax hike on games. Instead, a casino could decide to tweak the house edge in order to ensure it earns more on average from each customer than it did previously.

All casino games have a house edge, otherwise the casino wouldn’t make a profit and wouldn’t be able to invest in infrastructure, pay its staff or provide free entertainment, food and drinks.

Games such as slots, blackjack and roulette have a house edge that can be nudged if required. This is usually done by changing an algorithm slightly, or twisting the rules to benefit the house.

And it may be that we see lower RTP (Return to Player) rates on games across the highstreet and online casino community off the back of these minimum wage rises.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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