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Bally's Holds Job Fair for Laid-Off Employees

1 February 2006

ATLANTIC CITY – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Rajib Paul was more concerned about his family thousands of miles away than his own financial plight when he lost his job as a slot cashier at Bally's Atlantic City.

"Although modest by American standards, the part-time job allowed him to send money overseas to help support his parents and four brothers and sisters in his impoverished homeland of Bangladesh.

" "I was a little bit nervous, but now I'm OK because I think I'll be able to get another job," said Paul, 26, of Atlantic City. "But if I don't have a job, I'll feel bad."

"Paul was among 212 people fired last week by Bally's in a mass layoff affecting slot cashiers, slot attendants, spa employees, hotel workers and some of the cleanup crews who tidy up the casino floor.

"Bally's and its parent company, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., took a different approach toward the job cuts. Instead of swiftly showing ex-workers the door, Bally's held a special jobs fair Monday and Tuesday to help them find new positions in the three other Atlantic City casinos owned by Harrah's Entertainment.

" "It wasn't the pink slip that corporations are notorious for," Harrah's spokeswoman Alyce Parker said, adding that she believed this type of jobs fair was unprecedented for the Harrah's casinos and possibly for the entire Atlantic City gaming industry.

"Hoping to make the layoffs less painful, Bally's supervisors broke the bad news to employees face-to-face in small, more personalized groups, Parker said. Workers were given a severance packet that included information about the jobs fair. Translators who speak Spanish, Chinese and other foreign languages were called in to assist workers not fluent in English.

"There are 475 job openings at Harrah's three other Atlantic City properties — Harrah's, Caesars and Showboat Casino Hotel. Qualified employees from Bally's will be given a choice of the open positions in Atlantic City, but also have the option of working at another Harrah's casino in Las Vegas and other gaming jurisdictions.

" "If these displaced workers don't want these openings, they can go to another Harrah's across the country," Parker said. "We're not pushing it, but it's out there if they want it."

"Paul, who was at the jobs fair Tuesday afternoon for an interview, said he hoped to land a new position as a food server at Showboat's French Quarter Buffet. He also has a part-time job working as a busboy at a restaurant at the Sands Casino Hotel.

" "I need a job so I can continue to send money to my family in Bangladesh," he explained. "But my parents and the rest of my family are trying to come to the United States one by one."

"Parker said about 110 workers showed up for the jobs fair on Monday and another 20 or so on Tuesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, about 50 people who were layoff casualties were placed in new positions at the Harrah's casinos.

" "We feel, because there are almost 500 job openings out there, that this was the right thing to do," Parker said.

"The layoffs included both union and nonunion jobs, but a breakdown of the numbers was not available. Representatives of Local 54 of UNITE HERE, the casino industry's largest labor union, were at the jobs fair but declined to comment.

"Bally's has more than 6,000 employees, the largest work force of any of Atlantic City's 12 casino hotels, according to figures compiled by the state Casino Control Commission. The multi-themed Boardwalk gaming hall includes Bally's, the Wild Wild West Casino and the former Claridge Casino Hotel.

"The job cuts represented about 3 percent of Bally's work force, primarily reflecting an increase in coinless slot machines and other automated systems that made some positions obsolete.

"In recent years, Atlantic City casinos have been replacing the old coin-operated, one-armed bandits with slot machines that accept currency or bar-coded tickets instead of change. Gamblers redeem tickets or vouchers for their money.

"While technological advances have given gamblers fancier slot machines and more entertainment choices, some jobs have been sacrificed as a result. Casinos have been able to save on labor costs by reducing the number of slot attendants and coin-handling positions.

" "We're not the only ones," Parker said of Bally's. "This is an ongoing trend."

"Even Bally's cleanup crews have been affected by the proliferation of coinless slot machines. With fewer coin wrappers littering the casino floor, there is no longer a need for as many people to sweep them up.

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