North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:00 pm

Share your thoughts: Rohnert Park casino hiring to affect job market?

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    NBBJ Pulse PollIn less than a year’s time, Sonoma County will be home to the Bay Area’s largest casino, a prospect that has some people and businesses anticipating a significant economic boon to the region while others still vow to block a project in the making since 2003.

    Backers of the massive $800 million Graton Resort and Casino project northwest of Rohnert Park include labor leaders and Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, which will manage the property for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

    How will hiring 2,000 for the opening of Graton Resort & Casino in late 2013 impact the local hospitality and leisure job market?

    • Major impact (75%, 54 votes)
    • Little impact (11%, 8 votes)
    • No effect (3%, 2 votes)
    • Don't know (11%, 8 votes)

    Total voters: 72
    Polling period: May 8, 2013 @ 12:00 pm – May 15, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

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    What job-market aspects would be affected by Graton Resort & Casino hiring?

    • Wages (59%, 23 votes)
    • Benefits (36%, 14 votes)
    • Labor pool (67%, 26 votes)
    • Other (10%, 4 votes)

    Total voters: 39
    Polling period: May 8, 2013 @ 11:45 am – May 15, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

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    The tribe received approval to build the casino and hotel last May and began major construction in August. The project broke ground last June.

    “This is an enormous undertaking that will be one of the signature projects of Sonoma County,” said Jeff Janakus, who is overseeing construction of the casino as vice president of design and construction for Station Casinos.

    Sonoma County leisure and hospitality jobs vs job growth - January 2003-March 2013

    Hiring for the Rohnert Park casino would be greater than the 1,400 net jobs added in the past 12 months and equivalent to nearly one-10th of the county’s total employment in that industry. (click to enlarge)

    The project calls for a 3,000-slot casino and 200-room hotel and will include a number of other amenities, including a resort and five-story parking structure.

    Upon completion, the casino is expected to create some 2,000 permanent jobs.

    Joe Hasson, vice president and general manager of the Graton Resort and Casino, said he expects the project to be completed by the end of 2013.

    “We’re now really full speed ahead,” he said. The hotel portion of the project will be completed somewhat later than the casino, but Mr. Hasson said it was too soon to say exactly when. [read more at "RP casino expected to generate 2,000 jobs" and "Casino operator hires for full house upon opening"]


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    1. May 8, 2013, 9:55 pm

      by Aline Polikalas

      Very positive with multiple benefits for community and employment

    2. May 9, 2013, 10:39 am

      by boethius

      Though ostensibly 70-75% of RP’s citizens and somewhere on the order of 90% of Sonoma County did not want the Graton Casino – well, it’s coming anyway, whether you like it or not.

      Therefore you can either begrudgingly accept the inevitability of the casino or fight it tooth-and-nail to the last. STC101 has boldly proclaimed the doors of the casino will never open, based on whispered innuendos from the corridors of the Rohnert Park City Hall. Strangely no judge has issued an injunction against the legally executed compact between FIGR and the State of California rather than listen to scuttlebutt that some foolish City employee may or may not have side-winked to a local reporter who foolishly printed it as though it were holy writ. The New York Times the PD ain’t.

      The moral policemen of Sonoma County have had their say, many times over. They’ve justifiably fought the good fight from day one and in fact I don’t disagree with them at all. A casino is a terrible idea. Who really wants to attract legions of inveterate gamblers into your community and all that comes with that world? It shows a genuine lack of creativity on the part of the City that they’ve climbed into bed with the devil.

      Nonetheless, whether we like it or not – and many if not most of us don’t – the Graton Casino is coming. I live around the corner from it and have observed it from the day it broke ground. I may not like it – but there it is (duh). My own sense is it will result in a lot of jobs, most of them pretty low-skilled and low-paying and probably with minimal to no benefits. Dealers, security staff, servers, wait staff . . . non-rocket-science type positions. 90%+ of the management will almost surely be coming from Station though hopefully FIGR will develop their own staff to run the operation from scratch along with Station, just as the Yocha Dehe Wintun did with Cache Creek.

      Anyway, you may want to watch “California’s Lost Tribes” (Google it – it’s on SnagFilms) to get some perspective on why nearly all of the dwindling Native American tribes in California and around the nation have chosen to go the route of starting casinos. As objectionable as the entire idea may seem to most of us, it did help me to at least understand why the tribes have gone this way.

    3. May 15, 2013, 11:45 am

      by Marilee Montgomery

      Economists (Garrett 2003; Grinols 1994; 1996; 2004) say that gambling doesn’t create new jobs, but displaces or “cannibalizes” existing jobs in retail, entertainment and food service. These local jobs are lost as when people gamble money they would usually spend at local stores. In fact, many communities experience a net LOSS of jobs after a casino opens, as businesses are impacted by the casino’s tax-free status and blow-out prices. Professor John Kindt, a professor at University of Illinois, said, “The field research indicates that nationwide you stand to lose 1.5 jobs for every job the casinos create.”

      This job loss will be exacerbated by the Graton Rancheria tax-free status: it doesn’t have to charge any taxes of any kind. This tax-free status is unfair competition for local businesses which have to charge all applicable taxes, including our high local sales tax. Casinos cause local businesses to decline and drain millions from local retail businesses: In South Dakota, one year after video gambling was legalized in the state, Professor Robert Goodman, from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Director of the U. S. Gambling Study , in his study entitled, “Legalized Gambling as a Strategy for Economic Development”, indicated that there were “…significant declines for selected activities such as clothing stores, recreation services, business services, auto dealers and service stations.” Timothy Ryan, a University of New Orleans economist, reported that a proposed casino in New Orleans , “..will direct over $62 million (AWAY) from all retail businesses, excluding hotels.”

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