The Encore Boston Harbor casino opened less than two months ago, but its impact is already being felt in the region. And that impact is not always a positive one. According to reports, both regional casino competitors and local restaurants have experienced struggles since the Wynn Resorts property cut the ribbon.

Ripples felt an hour and a half away…

WJAR News, Providence’s NBC affiliate, is reporting that the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island has warned that it might have to layoff staff because of plummeting revenues. Last month, table game revenue was $3.9 million lower than it was in July 2018, a 34 percent plunge to $7.6 million. Slot machine revenue was down $6.4 million, a 17 percent drop to $32.2 million.

As a result, Twin River Casino spokeswoman Patti Doyle said that as many as 30 table games supervisors could face layoffs. She added that the casino is looking to see if some employees would be willing to voluntarily reduce hours so that nobody would have to be out of a job completely. WJAR

“We are effectively staffing to the present volume of business on the table games,” she said.

Casino management has informed its employees of the situation. In a memo obtained by WJAR, company officials told employees, “Business levels have dropped significantly, and we are faced with the need to reduce staffing levels accordingly.”

The casino, about 54 miles south of Encore Boston Harbor, hopes that business will increase after Labor Day and that employees can be re-hired.

…and right down the street

Closer to Encore, local Boston restaurants are finding that it has become harder to staff up because Encore Boston Harbor has hired so many hospitality workers. Casino spokesperson Rosie Salisbury told the Boston Herald that they have already hired 5,200 people and are still looking to hire 200 more. 135,000 employment applications were filed.

“We already had issues with finding staff — the casino has added a whole other dimension to it,” Mark D’Alessandro, general manager of Mistral and operations manager for the Columbus Restaurant Group, told the Herald.

It is a simply supply-and-demand issue. Encore Boston Harbor has scooped up much of the supply, so not only are there fewer qualified people to work at local restaurants, but wages are going to have to go up to bring them in.

“That’s one of the fears that we have,” Massachusetts Restaurant Association chief Bob Luz said. “You reach a breaking point because you can’t just keep passing it onto the consumer.”

Glynn Hospitality operations manager Sheldon Cohen told the Herald that more than ten bartenders and cooks have bolted his nine restaurants for Encore. On top of that, the restaurants are having to negotiate with current employees to get them to stay, which often means increasing their pay.

Luz did say that Encore has not played dirty, that it has not actively recruited people directly from competing restaurants. It is just that its size and resources have made it a “disruptive force” in the city.

Even those restaurants and bars who have not had employees leave are finding it much more difficult to attract new staffers. Many are having to use different methods of recruiting that they have not had to resort to in the past. What was once recruiting by networking has now become internet ads or the use of headhunters.

Lead image credit: Encore Boston Harbor / Barbara Kraft

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