In the world of gaming, there always seems to be this difficult relationship with the casino and its regulator. This is true for both private casinos and those that are Native American owned. Casinos need to hire reliable individuals (ideally those who have passed employee background checks) to keep their business generating revenue, and the gaming commission's job is to make sure those people are legally licensed to work in their respective facilities. Sometimes, the casinos refer in jest to the gaming commission as "cops," and the gaming commission can refer to the casino as "cowboys." Aside from that friendly banter though, this is truly a symbiotic relationship. Both parties need each other, and the fact remains that if the gaming commissions overregulated the casinos, the gaming commissions wouldn't be around themselves.
The Importance of Employee Background Checks & Monitoring
I had a chance to talk with casino employees and casino managers about how the gaming licensing process affects their lives. I also spoke with gaming commissions on how they view their role with respect to regulating. My firm works with a great deal of casino clients that span private industry operators to Native American owned enterprises. One of the major issues that kept coming up was the problem of casino employees not reporting to the gaming commission when they get arrested. This seems to be a recurring problem, but there are many different angles to the issue.
The first perspective that I encountered was from the applicant. Those that I talked to mentioned they knew they should report an arrest but it was very clear to them what a disqualifying offense was or not. The reality of the situation is that most of these offenses are not ones that would have their gaming license taken away, but the applicant does not know that so they simply don't report it, and then run the risk of having it exposed by the gaming commission. And if the gaming commission does an audit and finds an arrest record, that licensee can be terminated. If the applicant came clean and explained the circumstances and situation surrounding the event, he or she could have remained employed.
Another perspective is from the casino. Most casinos run employee background checks on any applicant that they hire, and then, in turn, the gaming commissions will typically also do a thorough investigation that involves an FBI database search. Then, a license is issued if the applicant passes all of the employee background checks. After this is done, casinos will employ the individual and put him or her through extensive training and on-boarding. According to an article published by Robinson and Associates, casino employees are considered to be very valuable asset because they fall under what is called a complex position. A great deal of time, effort, and resources goes into training and nurturing them. When a casino has to replace an employee, this could cost them over $ 10,000 (or over $ 12,000 if they work in an upscale property). What if the gaming commission runs an audit by performing its own employee background checks, finds an employee that recently got arrested (which went unreported), and terminates that employee?
In a time when gambling revenue is down, casinos are watching their bottom line very closely. In many of my discussions, executives have mentioned that if there were some way to have their employees electronically monitored and have the right process to provide the documentation of the arrest occurrence delivered to the gaming commission, it would be a huge help. Casino turnover is already high enough, and if the gaming commission came in and terminated a licensee, that would cost the casino even more money than normal turnover because that employee would have to be removed from the property immediately.
Instituting a System that Monitors Employee Background Checks
The last perspective on performing routine employee background checks is from the gaming commission side, whose responsibility is to keep those casinos in compliance with laws and policies from their respective governments. They are held to those standards and are expected to enforce them. However, every gaming commissioner that I talked to reiterated that the job is not to try and harm the casino's profitability, but to make sure they are kept in compliance and assist them with remaining in compliance. I mentioned the idea of having a system that would instantly alert the employer and then provide a system for the applicant to report his or her arrest to the gaming commission. Although they cannot "officially" comment on any particular service, they did mention that it sounded like an excellent idea. Most commissioners say they consider themselves partners for the casinos and operate as such.
In closing, managing the dynamics of the casino, the gaming commission, and the employee can be challenging, but all parties working together can bring about a consistent solution. I have had the good fortune of being able to work with all parties on solutions for their relationship and get to hear about great ideas all the time. A system for instantly delivering arrest results and setting up a process for self-reporting sounds like a win-win-win. But this is just one of many different ways to approach managing all those involved on the different issues that they intersect on, including employee background checks. Great things come about by working together … and not in conflict.