Staying home or wandering the earth – the choice


 

Muslim Romanies in Bosnia and Herzegovina (around 1900)

Sometimes we are faced with a choice between home and career, meaning we can stay in our home town or move to follow the opportunities of our career.  It is never an easy choice and one that is usually driven by factors completely outside of control; gaming as a career is more and more becoming a career of travel and not one of place as it once was – or me any many others..

In the last three or four years, I have written about the impacts of competition often, mostly in regards to Atlantic City, especially as the impacts of competition from Pennsylvania has become apparent.  The easiest way to analyze Atlantic City for me is to compare it to Reno; Reno has 25 years of history of the impacts competition on the local casino gaming industry.  It began in 1985 when California’s lottery was introduced and has continued ever since as gaming has expanded all over the West Coast.  Of course, the biggest impact has come from California as the majority of Reno’s casino customers have been Californians.  The decline of the gaming industry in Reno did not begin in 1985, but by the 1990s it was clear that gaming, particularly Indian gaming, was going to have a long-term and drastic impact on casinos in northern Nevada.

Today, in the waning days of 2010 that is all old news; so much so that when the Siena  announced closing its casino, then the hotel and now an auction is scheduled in a couple of weeks, no one was at all surprised, it was just another chapter in a 20-year old story.  The article generated more interest nationally than it did locally.  All of the signs and results of competition that Reno has experienced can be used to forecast trends in Atlantic City; it may take a few years, but based on the competition (and it will continue to increase) the city faces, clearly Atlantic City is on the path Reno has already traveled.

For me personally, a very important part of the tale is about the people, not the casinos.  Prior to 1990, casino jobs in Reno were plentiful and casino careers were considered to be good careers with a great deal of opportunity for growth and development.  As I have said before in prior posts, that is no longer true and today there was a very good illustration of the “new” work-career environment in Reno for casino workers.  The Reno Gazette-Journal did an article on the former chef, Juan Villa, at the Siena; he and another former employee of the property have just opened their own deli and bakery.  Villa told the reporter that a while back he noticed the Siena was really struggling and not likely to survive.  He said he wanted to stay in Reno, but did not see a future in the casino industry: “I knew getting another executive chef position here would be tough, so I figured I had to either start my own business or move out of Reno.”

That is the same conclusion many former casino workers have been forced to make, change careers or leave town.  I made the same decision 20 years ago – 21 years in January – without a career change I would never have been able to stay in Reno.  In my youth had I was eager to travel the world looking excitement, but as a mature man soon to have grandchildren, I wanted to stay home and be with my family. To go back to Atlantic City, that too is in its future, casinos will downsize, some will close and there will be fewer and fewer jobs available.  So casino workers there will have to get ready to move or change that will be the choice; the category of “casino career” is about to leave town – forever.

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