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Las Vegas casino workers will receive panic buttons to report sexual harassers

Employees who work at the largest casinos in Las Vegas will soon receive panic buttons that would enable them to raise an alarm if they experience sexual harassment or abuse on the job—especially house keepers and cocktail servers who are most vulnerable to these kinds of abuse.

Two major casino operators, MGM Resorts International and Caesar’s Entertainment, have agreed in contract negotiations with unions to provide the panic buttons to workers who are most vulnerable to sexual harassment. According to the Culinary Workers Union’s Local 226, the labor contracts over 36,000 service workers at the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace, and other major casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

The panic button is similar to a car remote, and when pressed, will alert managers, who then receive the name and room number of the employee who is signaling for help.

“We are here to do our jobs and provide incredible, world-class customer service for our guests,” Maria Landeros, a housekeeper at the MGM Grand, told the Culinary Union. “We are not here to be abused or have people think that just because it’s Las Vegas anything goes.”

According to a survey conducted in May of over 10,000 casino workers, about 59 percent of the Las Vegas cocktail servers and 27 percent of the hotel housekeepers said they had been sexually harassed by guests, managers, or others while working on the job. Also, about 72 percent of the Las Vegas cocktail servers and 53 percent of the hotel housekeepers polled said guests had done something to make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

The culinary and bartender unions affiliated with an international labor union that represents service and hospitality workers, Unite Here, conducted the survey.

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However, the move to give out panic buttons is a big win for workers in the service industry, who are at high risk for experiencing sexual harassment. Las Vegas casino housekeepers, bartenders, and cocktail servers have been constantly putting pressure on their various managers to protect them from harassment, stemming from the #MeToo movement. It also gathered more steam throughout Las Vegas after news broke that casino titan, Steve Wynn, had allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted female workers at his casinos.

According to a local Fox News affiliate, the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, a separate property whose managers are still in contract negotiations with the local labor union, has already ordered panic buttons for workers.

Also, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is showing its support for a new self-exclusion technology called GameSecure. The new technology is aim at protecting at-risk gamblers to self-exclude from all online gambling sites in a jurisdiction at the same time, rather than having to self-exclude from each company’s site one-by-one.

The Vancouver-based company, Bencon Technologies, is hoping the new technology will drastically reduce risk to self-excluded online gamblers and industry operators by simplifying the self-exclusion process.
The NCPG has constantly clamoured for this type of industry-wide synchronization for a long time, and GameSecure is the first productive development in that regard.

“We really support this initiative,” said Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the NCPG. “GameSecure provides a timely and much-needed option for regulators and operators to use technology to solve a major problem in regulated gaming today. Currently even well-intentioned self-exclusion programs fail players and operators because they do not provide coverage and support seamlessly across a jurisdiction.”

“We strongly encourage all stakeholders to adopt innovative programs like GameSecure as an ethical and effective way to conduct gaming responsibly and reduce the social costs of gambling addiction.”

Also, legal online casino has introduced quite a number of new responsible gaming policies not found in the land-based casino industry.

“Online really challenges aspects of the traditional terrestrial responsible gaming model,” said Whyte.

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