WASHINGTON, D.C. - The gaming industry was recognized for its outstanding achievements in getting people off welfare and into the workforce during a White House ceremony today to announce the formation of The Welfare to Work Partnership, a not-for profit organization created to encourage corporate social responsibility.
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. and Grand Casinos were two of the companies honored at the White House for their leadership in implementing exemplary programs that have allowed many unemployed or underemployed individuals find jobs and get off welfare. Other activities for the day included meetings on Capitol Hill and a White House Domestic Policy Council roundtable discussion to encourage open dialogue among companies and public officials.
Adhering to President Clinton’s initiative to decrease public assistance programs in the United States, many leading businesses were given special recognition for their achievements in training, hiring and retaining former welfare recipients. Representing the gaming industry’s accomplishments were: Phil Satre, chairman & CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, Tom Brosig, president of Grand Casinos, Inc. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president & CEO of the American Gaming Association.
“Many companies in the gaming industry, such as Mirage Resorts, MGM Grand, Station Casinos, Circus Circus and Aztar, have an impressive history in helping welfare recipients get into the workforce by providing employment opportunities,” said Fahrenkopf. “Now, with the President’s initiative to encourage companies to develop welfare-to-work programs, their programs, as well as those provided by Harrah’s and Grand Casinos can serve as models for other businesses to emulate.”
A Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. survey revealed that 12 percent of the company’s employees nationwide were able to get off welfare because of their jobs at Harrah’s, and 19 percent were able to get off unemployment. Harrah’s programs include outreach efforts, such as the following:
- The initial staffing of Harrah’s, Atlantic City, provided training for disadvantaged potential job applicants never before employed. The company purchased and distributed 300 alarm clocks to help reinforce the need for punctuality among new job seekers.
- Harrah’s Shreveport, provided remedial training in math and reading skills to approximately 50 displaced workers, welfare recipients and homeless individuals whom Harrah’s subsequently hired to help open the property.
- Harrah’s Tunica has partnered with the Families First Advisory Council, and Workplace, two non-profit groups that provide pre-employment training to welfare recipients and the unemployed and help them move to private sector jobs in Harrah’s Tunica casino.
- Over a two-year period, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe hired 78 disabled adults, working in conjunction with the California Workability Program, the Department of Rehabilitation and the Job Training Partnership Program. In 1994, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe received the Nevada Governor’s Award for hiring the disabled, and in 1996, the Nevada Easter Seal Society named Harrah’s Nevada casinos “Employer of the Year” in recognition of the casinos’ success in hiring, developing and promoting individuals with disabilities.
Grand Casinos, Inc. has a long history in helping underprivileged and disfranchised members of the community. Program highlights include:
- From 1993 through 1996, Grand Casinos has participated in the federally-created Job Training and Partnership Act Program (JTPA). As a result, Grand Casinos hired more than 900 unemployed or underemployed individuals, most of whom received salaries at or above the average wage in the state ($22,000) and received full benefits.
- In 1996, Grand Casinos entered into a contractual agreement with the Mississippi Employment Security Commission to train and employ former welfare recipients through the state’s WorkFirst program. Through the combined efforts of WorkFirst and WOTC programs, Grand Casinos is committed to hiring more than 500 unemployed or underemployed individuals in Mississippi alone over the next 12 months.
- Goodwill, Industries, Inc. and Grand Casino Gulfport formed a partnership in July 1996 dedicated to creating opportunities for unemployed or underemployed physically and mentally disabled individuals. To date, this program has successfully transitioned six disabled individuals into the Grand Casinos’ workforce. Grand Casinos received the Goodwill Employer of the Year Award for 1996 and 1997 for enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.
The gaming industry has been responsible for hiring a large percentage of people who were previously on welfare and introducing them into the workforce. A recently released study, “Economic Impacts of Gaming in the United States, Volume 2: Micro Study,” which examines three new gaming jurisdictions - Gulfport/Biloxi, Miss.; Shreveport/Bossier City, La.; and Joliet, Ill. - reveals that casino gaming has had a dramatic role in decreasing public assistance in these areas, such as welfare, food stamp and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs.
The Welfare to Work Partnership’s national efforts will prompt participation among the American business community to hire welfare recipients without displacing existing employees.
Established in 1995, the AGA was formed to represent the gaming-entertainment industry by addressing regulatory, legislative and educational issues.