Atlantic City casinos are set to open more job opportunities to local workers, with local government leaders pushing to phase out J-1 Visa workers. The Casino Association of New Jersey, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and city and state government officials are pushing to provide further training and job opportunities for local residents.
Seasonal foreign workers have flooded Atlantic City casinos in past years. With limited job opportunities, local city officials are in favour of opening up casino job opportunities for several hundred local residents.
Casino Association of New Jersey President Steve Callender believes that the move to put local workers first, will help revitalise the community. “We’ve always been receptive of the idea of putting Atlantic City people to work first, so it’s going to have to be a program that is well thought out and organized and gets people on board.”
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. has been proactively campaigning for the casino industry to step up and help bridge the job shortfall. Before the COVID-19 pandemic Mayor Small had secured commitments from Atlantic City casinos to provide employment options at a job fair. “This further clarifies my administration’s stance with the good people of the City of Atlantic City, working with the casino industry, towards employing more Atlantic City residents, which is a priority, I’m happy that this is going to happen,” Mayor Small said.
Small was open in acknowledging that local government officials haven’t done enough to provide casino employment opportunities. The “government and casinos could have done better,” Small said. “But we’re not about finger-pointing, we’re moving forward and creating opportunities.”
The Atlantic City Casino association has been quick to embrace the idea, with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino co-owner Joe Jingoli receiving support for local job opportunities from other members at the group’s monthly meeting.
“There’s going to be some pain, and it’s pain that should have happened 30 years ago, we’re going to have to deal with that now. And we’ll keep going until we get this right,” Jingoli said.
Local 54 Union casino workers President Bob McDevitt said that local city officials were looking to start vocational training in September for the Spring deadline. “Probably before that, too, because some of the jobs, the need is much higher and the casinos are short-staffed now and they’ll be short in the winter,” McDevitt said. “There is, and has been, a problem as long as I’ve been in the local and going back to when they started hiring J-1 visa workers back in the early 2000s.”