Study Shows Strong Massachusetts Casino Workforce

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts’ Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts project concluded that the state’s casino workforce is strong, and that hiring goals have been met.

Study Shows Strong Massachusetts Casino Workforce

A new study shows that Massachusetts’ three casino properties have met their diversity hiring goals, and that the job quality in the casino business there is good.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Donahue Institute presented the results of its study, conducted by the university’s Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts project, to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission May 23.

The project, titled “Casino Job Quality,” studied workforce conditions and payroll data from each of the state’s three casinos, ranging from January to December 2022.

“In terms of studying job quality, what we really were trying to look at is measures, including mobility, retention, living wages. When we went into this, we did a pretty extensive literature review of what people were looking at when they were studying job quality,” said Project Leader and Senior Research Analyst Thomas Peake before the gaming commission, according to WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

Conclusions show a very low turnover rate compared to the Accommodation and Food Service Industry as a whole, in addition to better compensation.

Of 6,601 people employed in the industry, the median hourly wage was believed to be $28.31, with turnover rates at casinos coming in at 28.6 percent, compared to the service industry as a whole, with its rate of 115 percent.

The study specifically notes that while 28.6 percent is the average, MGM Springfield appeared to have the highest, with 46.7 percent, while Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville appeared to have the lowest, just under 16 percent.

Using a “living wage calculator” developed by MIT, researchers also found nearly 61 percent did not appear to make what the calculator defines as a living wage.

“The jobs do tend to pay better than similar service industry jobs, but still not enough that, at least using MIT’s calculations, we could expect a lot of these people to be self-sufficient and make ends meet in the counties where they live,” Peake said.

As far as diversity goals, the study found that in many cases, the casinos appeared to be meeting or exceeding their hiring goals for minorities, veterans, and local workers, though hiring for women has been falling short.

In the case of MGM Springfield, the casino exceeded a stated goal of 50 percent minority workers with 57.3 percent, in addition to doubling its goal of 2 percent veteran workers with nearly 5 percent.

The study also specifically states that MGM “met its goal of hiring 35 percent of its workforce from the City of Springfield, with 39.6 percent of its employees” coming from the host community.

Having said that, the research also indicated all three casinos, including Encore Boston Harbor, fell short of employing a half-female workforce. All three appeared to employ just over 42 percent women.

“When it comes to earnings, another thing we did notice—there are some racial disparities within the casinos, which may in fact be that there may be sort of education and skill certification issues that play in here, just what types of departments people are working in, and whatnot,” he said.

In the top 20 percent of earners, people of color are “represented in similar proportions to hiring targets for minority workers.” In the case of MGM Springfield, that’s 50 percent.

However, in the bottom 20 percent of earners, people of color are over-represented.