A strange thing is happening in Ohio, perhaps the rustiest of those Rust Belt states -- its unemployment rate is dropping, and fast (though the drop in the jobless rate is accompanied by a big increase in the number of people who dropped out of the labor force and stopped looking for work). The state's business and government leaders are excited about the possible impact of natural gas drilling jobs (though doubtful of the fantastical industry projections), and the potential for spill-over industrial work.
And now the casinos are hiring, too: "Marcus Glover has a Christmas present for his new hometown: jobs. The New Orleans transplant and general manager of Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino announced today that he's accepting applications for 750 casino positions in 40 different job areas, [including] security officers to chefs, cashiers to slot machine supervisors." (Cleveland.com)
Should be an interesting 11 months in Ohio -- the other Ohio casinos are hiring or will be soon. If the economy continues to improve there, does Obama catch any updraft? Can he carry a state he carried last election, and might need to carry in 2012? Nothing to do with casinos, obviously. Well, maybe a little.
... Two alleged thefts: One of more than a million dollars, and one of less than $20:
A) "A former bookkeeper at West Virginia's Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort was charged with stealing more than $1.2 million from the resort over five years and using some of the money to buy a house and land in rural Virginia. Anita Ambler, 48, was indicted in Wheeling on multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and using criminal proceeds for transactions in regard to the house in Reva, Va., where she lives." (P-G)
B) State police say he was making an illegal late bet. Tim Mastroianni says he was merely making a pest of himself because he thought The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane was wrongly collecting commissions, or 'vigs,' on losing craps bets. ... In an unusual case that pits the gambler against casino, the Mt. Lebanon man now faces a charge of 'past posting' ... He won $41 for his efforts, the casino initially alleged, although the amount has since been reduced to $16." (P-G).
... Do you know how to deal cards? Good. You're hired:"These days, it seems every other casino is in the hunt for the same thing: table-game dealers. Demand has quickly outstripped supply, casino operators say. Hence the predicament Valley Forge Casino Resort faces as Pennsylvania's 11th gambling hall, preparing for a spring debut: 250 to 300 dealers will be required when the casino opens in March at the Valley Forge Convention Center, management says, but it currently has only 90 prospects going through training." (Philly.com)
... "Tables game revenue at the 11 Pennsylvania casinos surged to $54 million last month, an increase of more than $15.5 million from a year ago, or about 40 percent. Tables generated tax revenue of more than $8.7 million, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, under a 16 percent tax rate on their revenue." (Philly.com)
Odds and ends
Pennsylvania's native casino empire, Penn National Gaming (third-largest casino company in the U.S.), wants to build a land-based casino in Iowa ... Can the state Supreme Court save the seemingly doomed Foxwoods casino in Philadelphia? ... Does the Mt. Airy casino in the Poconos get its license renewed?
Here's a paradigm shift for you:"For the first time ever, Pennsylvania's 10 gambling halls generated more revenue than Atlantic City's 11 casinos. The margin between the two regions was minimal, with Atlantic City taking in $245.1 million and Pennsylvania taking in $245.8 million, but points to a potential shift in player preference."