August 10, 2012

Senate passes gaming bill; Baltimore City delegation urge Caesars to hire local residents, including ex-cons

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UPDATE: the Maryland Senate in a 28-14 vote Friday evening passed the bill to expand gambling with table games and sixth casino in Prince George’s County.

Eight Democrats joined six Republicans in opposing the bill backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and Senate President Mike Miller. The bill passed largely without change from the committee version after the Senate rejected over two dozen floor amendments offered mostly by Republicans.

The House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing on the bill, but will not vote on it until at least Monday.

By Dana Amihere
dana@marylandreporter.com

Baltimore City delegates pushed Caesars Entertainment executives about their company’s plans to employ local residents, including former convicts, and invite minority business participation into the construction of their downtown casino.

“Baltimore is a tale of two cities,” Del. Jill Carter said. Despite pockets of affluence, there are thousands of residents who come back to the city every year with criminal records looking for work, Carter said.

“I understand that you don’t want people with 20 theft convictions working around money, but everyone’s not a thief,” she said.

Struggling to make ends meet

Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Democrat like all the city delegates, said that she wouldn’t support any venture that wouldn’t ensure jobs for city residents struggling to make ends meet. People will do what they have to survive, whether it’s an honest job or dealing drugs, Glenn said.

“We need to give people who have had run-ins with the law second chances to make good livings, have health care and so forth so that they can be good constructive members of the city, ” Glenn said.

Trevor Busche, Caesars vice president for corporate development, said that while it’s premature to say who would be hired, “This is Baltimore’s casino. When people come they want to see Baltimore residents working there.”

Minority participation a must

Glenn was also concerned that minority business enterprises (MBEs) get adequate requests for proposals for subcontracting work. “Right now all of the construction trades are hurting,” she said. “I’d like to have some input on the RFPs from the onset. That’s where the rubber meets the road.”

Having headed an MBE for 30 years and co-founded the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce, Del. Barbara Robinson said that she’d like to see local participation in a hiring advisory group. There have been problems with primary contractors failing to hire MBE subcontractors, Robinson said.

Busche said that Caesars intends to comply with state and local MBE guidelines as well as closely working with the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.

Open for business

Busche said that his company and the delegates shared an interest in getting the casino up and running as soon as possible so they could start bringing in revenue. “We want receipts, and we want a casino,” he said.

Delegation chairman Curt Anderson asked the executives when they’d like to see a sixth casino to open after their anticipated 2014 completion date. Currently, the bill requires at least 30 months gap after the Harrah’s in the city opens.

“I’d ask for 10 years, but I don’t want to delay the state’s progress,” Caesars’ attorney Michael Johansen said. The city delegation reached a consensus of three years, an extra six months, a period Busche called “fair and balanced.”

  • While I’m supportive of Caesar’s hiring Baltimore residents…I have a few questions…

    Do Baltimore residents have the ” willingness to learn and to work ” that would make them attractive to Caesar’s ?

    I saw the requirements to work at Maryland Live, and they were quite demanding !

    As for hiring ex-cons…Some of the jobs require licensing since money handling is involved…How can an ex-con overcome that ?

    For example, being arrested & jailed for drugs ( using/selling ) disqualifies one from nursing since they would have the keys to the drug cabinet…

    Handling millions of dollars can be tempting…

    And at the same time, not having a job will lead back to crime…

    I hope that the hiring process will be very carefully thought out …
     

    • Shelton

      I’m sure the hiring process will be discriminate. The legislators were raising issues. I am certain there are at least a few Baltimore residents willing to work. Don Frye and his the governor’s gambling commission awarded a Maryland gaming license to Dan Gilbert, CEO of Rock Gaming, a partner with Caesar andillegal gambling convict so they should be sympathetic to the plight of criminally convicted job seekers who desire to turn their lives around, earn money, pay taxes, and be productive citizens. 

      • Dale McNamee

         Hi Shelton !

         Here’s the link to jobs at Maryland Live !  https://wfa.kronostm.com/index.jsp?locale=en_US&APPLICATIONNAME=MarylandLiveCasinoReqExt 

        There are too many to list out the requirements for each…This was what I was thinking of when I made the comment about being ” ready to work” and “being ready to learn”…

        And as I said, I’d really be happy to see “ex-cons” get a second chance…It won’t be easy is all I’m saying.

      •  Hi Shelton !

         What i meant gy “being willing to work & ready to learn” is having some prerequisite skills to be considered for employment. I looked at the “Careers” section of Maryland Live’s website and looked at the requirements for several positions and they formed the basis of my statements…

          I never worked in a casino in my life, but my education and previous work experience should help me to be ready and willing to be
        trained for those jobs…Or any job in general… That’s all.

         

  • Nehoc7

    The casino could hire ex-offenders for construction but not as employees once the facility opens, nor can they hire people with poor credit, because of the amount of money that changes hands daily.

  • Jakemohorovic

    Can casino proceeds also be used to lower the price of gas in Maryland

  • A Jollivet

    Thanks Delegate Carter for trying to help ALL the people especially those that need more help.

  • Cindy Walsh

    As Baltimore City delegation know Baltimore only hires out – of- state Right To Work labor or undocumented workers……no city residents need apply. The same with National Harbor.

  • Cindy Walsh

    Vegas casino workers had to strike for 5 and 1/2 years a few decades ago to raise work and wage standards to living wage. Until that point the casinos were run as the Cordish Enterprise Zone/Cheesecake Factory group in the Inner Harbor……fraudulent scheduling and time cards and abusive work conditions. Undocumented workers have marched and testified to these harsh and criminal work conditions and we can be sure these conditions are found at Maryland Live and will be at other casino locations. These are not good paying jobs and it is not a reputable industry.