Entertainment

Hiring Spree Underway at Arkansas Casinos, With More Job Openings to Come

Arkansas’ casinos are in a hiring mode. The three licensed casinos in the state also are expanding their operations, with construction projects either underway or nearly complete.

Each of the three casinos recently put out the word that they are looking for employees. One casino offered to hire people on the spot. Another was handing out $1,500 bonuses to those who want to be card dealers.

The three casinos are Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, Oaklawn Casino Racing Resort in Hot Springs, and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. A fourth casino has been licensed for Russellville, but is tied up in a legal dispute.

At Southland, job seekers wanting to be dealers began attending a free dealer school on Monday. A tweet from Southland indicates dealers can earn a $1,500 bonus, in addition to the free school.

Southland is a casino and dog track across the Mississippi River from the larger Memphis, Tenn., metropolitan area. The dog track will close next year, but the resort will remain open and is expanding.

Southland also recently bumped up its pay for salaried, non-tipped employees to $15 an hour. These employees include those working in security, food and beverage, housekeeping, cashiering, and player service jobs, according to WREG-TV in Memphis.

Security officer Tomeka Banis told the television station she called her boss when she heard about the pay raise to make sure it was true.

“I’ve been here seven years and this is highest pay that we have gotten,” she said.

Southland General Manager Dave Wolf said 400 employees will benefit from the pay raise now. As operations ramp back up from COVID-19, a couple hundred more workers will receive a raise, he said.

 ‘Come as You Are’

At Saracen, Carlton Saffa, the chief market officer, has tweeted a couple of notices this month letting potential employees know the Pine Bluff resort has numerous job openings.

Pine Bluff is about 45 minutes south of centrally located Little Rock, the capital city.

Earlier this month, Saffa tweeted, “How about 100 additional new jobs, hiring on the spot.” The openings included salary and hourly jobs, in addition to management positions.

He urged job candidates to “Come as you are.” You may leave with a new career,” he tweeted. 

At Oaklawn, General Manager Wayne Smith recently told KATV-TV that only about half of 400 recent jobs openings had been filled by mid-April.

“Ever since the stimulus package money came out in February, we are just not getting folks to come in,” Smith told the Little Rock television station.

Construction Underway

Oaklawn’s hiring spree has been spurred by its $100 million expansion, which includes additional gaming space and an eight-story, 198-room hotel. Oaklawn is about a hour southwest of Little Rock.

Saracen has been open for six months, but already is expanding its poker room, Saffa noted in a tweet.

At Southland, the resort is planning by 2022 to add to its casino floor space and to complete a 21-story hotel. This will create even more job openings.

“We’re going to hire an additional four to five hundred people in the upcoming year,” Wolf told the television station. “So, we’ll probably start hiring sometime in December or January.”

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