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Gaming Guru

Alana Roberts
 

Wynn Employees Pulled From Other Companies

7 April 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Of the 9,500 workers Wynn Las Vegas has hired, 20 percent were hired from former Mirage Resorts properties, the property's top human resources executive said.

But an MGM Mirage executive says the anticipated losses at Bellagio, Mirage, Treasure Island and Golden Nugget -- hotels Steve Wynn sold MGM Grand in 2000 -- won't hurt the operation of its properties.

Wynn Las Vegas' new employees also hail from "everywhere else," Arte Nathan, chief human resources officer for Wynn Las Vegas, said. He said the company's employee ranks also include many Mandalay Bay, Paris Las Vegas and Venetian alumni.

Nathan said about 80 percent of the company's employees are from the gaming business, with half from Strip properties. The remaining half worked at locals casinos and a variety of other companies, including almost every kind of business in the Las Vegas Valley.

"Everyone who was hired was currently doing the job that they were hired for," Nathan said. "We feel very good about the people who applied and the people we hired."

As the Wynn Las Vegas staff is busily preparing for its April 28 opening, an MGM Mirage executive says Wynn Las Vegas' opening hasn't made it difficult to find good replacements for those who left their properties to work for Wynn.

"I have heard of no one who's indicated any trouble or concern about it," Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs at MGM Mirage, said. "We're going about our business; we're replacing folks. There's a lot of hiring going on. We have a very healthy pool of applicants on an ongoing basis who are looking to join the MGM Mirage family."

He said many of the open positions will be replaced by current workers looking to move into those jobs.

Feldman said the company had anticipated that about 2,000 workers would leave to go work for Wynn Las Vegas, but said bosses will have a better idea in a couple of weeks of who has left and in what areas. He speculated that the greatest losses would be in the housekeeping and restaurant staffs as well as the bell staff, but noted that some executives also left to work for Wynn.

Although Wynn Las Vegas is said to be attracting some of the top workers in the Las Vegas Valley's gaming industry, Feldman said the company doesn't expect to have difficulties in attracting good workers.

"We have 36,000 top notch workers," Feldman said. "If some of those may have chosen to go to Wynn we will easily identify new folks who will be able to meet our standards. It's been our experience and it's proven itself again and again if you find enthusiastic people and you give them the tools that they need and the training that they need they'll go far beyond your expectation."

Executives representing other leading properties say their losses to Wynn Las Vegas are minimal, but they all declined to say how many workers they lost.

"Our hiring level hasn't changed," Robert Stewart, a Caesars Entertainment Inc., spokesman, said. "We lost a couple of senior managers to Mr. Wynn as we anticipated we would. It has not been difficult to fill vacant positions. We haven't seen a huge exodus of people to Wynn."

Rob Stillwell, a spokesman for Boyd Gaming Corp., said the company won't feel much impact from the opening of Wynn Las Vegas.

"We have 11 different operations here in town," Stillwell said. "The breadth of our company helps minimize any impact that some smaller properties might feel as a result of that. I think down the road when we look back on this period it might be easy to see some sort of spike of transitioning changes."

Jim Hughes, general manager of the Palms, said he knows of only two people who left to work for Wynn Las Vegas.

"We treat our team members well and I think they appreciate that," Hughes said.

Nathan said the company has done a good job at anticipating the staffing level necessary to open the property and hasn't over-hired the way other properties do.

"Steve Wynn does not allow us to over-hire, nor does he allow us to lay off because we did over-hire," Nathan said. "Anyone who suggests we have doesn't know the record and they're trying to scare their employees in spite of the record.

Of the three previous Strip properties we opened we did not over-hire, nor did we lay off anyone."

Nathan agreed that attrition is a part of the industry and that some properties over-hire.

There can be up to 5 percent attrition in a place this big," Nathan said.

He said instead of over-hiring the property has a waiting list of about 2,000 people in case of attrition.

Deutsche Bank Securities stock analyst Marc Falcone said over-staffing in anticipation of the opening of a new casino property isn't uncommon in the industry.

"We see that consistently across jurisdictions," from the Borgata resort in Atlantic City- the last major casino resort to open in the United States -- to smaller casinos, he said.

Wynn hasn't had any problems attracting more employees than needed, Falcone said. He said Wynn Las Vegas will probably employ about 8,000 people after some attrition takes place. Nathan said the property had 111,000 applications.

Now that Wynn Las Vegas has hired all of its employees the property's human resources leaders are beginning to start the process of training those workers. The last of the property's workers are set to begin working by Monday, Nathan said.

"We will conduct 13,000 classroom sessions in 28 days," he said. "They have to learn about this property. They have to learn about the new standards we have set and the way we want things. Because this property is new we have to go back and teach them all about how we do things."

This is the fifth property opening he's done, Nathan said. The others were the Mirage, Treasure Island, Beau Rivage and Bellagio.

"The training for each specific position is far more complete and detailed than I've ever done in the past," Nathan said.