Job seekers

As Sky River Casino hires, job seekers bet on shorter commutes

Mai Vang drove to Placer County from Stockton, much the same route she used to take to work as a croupier at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln. Josh Tomlin drove Interstate 80 from Sacramento’s Pocket neighborhood. He deals cards in Shingle Springs.

Sheldon Benham-Callender drives daily from Sacramento to tiny Brooks in Yolo County’s Capay Valley to deal poker and blackjack hands.

The three were among hundreds of gambling industry job seekers from across the Sacramento area who filled the Sky River Casino job fair in Rocklin this week in hopes of working at the Elk Grove Casino. currently under construction. Job seekers here seemed to be motivated by new opportunities as well as record prices at the pumps and the promise of a shorter commute.

“It’s a minute,” Benham-Callender said of the drive to Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County from his home north of Sacramento as he waited with dozens of others for his turn during a live audition for card resellers at the Monday job fair. “It’s a push.”

The doors to the $500 million Sky River resort 15 minutes south of Sacramento won’t open until November, developers say, but the casino is now hiring with a second event scheduled for May 23 at the District 56 resort in Elk Grove. More events are expected over the summer months as Sky River nears opening day, casino officials said.

Sky River is hiring for some 2,000 positions across the facility, from food and drink to drivers and surveillance.

Alicia Flores hoped to be among them on Monday, waiting to be auditioned for a security or surveillance position. His home in the Sacramento area is a 10-minute drive from the casino.

“That’s why I’m keeping my fingers crossed, especially with gas prices,” Flores said. “But I came with a positive attitude.”

SAC_SN_0509_SkyRiverCasino_ (2)
Beverage Manager Ian Beightler, right, interviews Max Tapia at the Sky River Casino job fair on Monday, May 9, 2022, at the Rocklin Events Center. The $500 million casino in Elk Grove, developed by the Wilton Rancheria, is expected to employ up to 2,000 workers. Sara Nevis [email protected]

In the vast tribal gaming landscape of the Sacramento area, the newest entrant is betting on its neighbor’s proximity to the capital not only to lure customers to its tables, slots, shows and restaurants, but also the hundreds of workers that he needs to staff them all.

And on Monday, candidates like Vang weren’t waiting for a later job fair or hiring event closer to home, but traveling miles for the opportunity to land a job before the competition.

“It would be a big difference in the commute” to Elk Grove from her home in Stockton, she said.

“We thought we would have a mix of people, but a lot have arrived. There’s a really good buzz,” said Sky River Vice President Chris Gibase.

For Tomlin, the table game retailer in Sacramento’s Pocket neighborhood, Sky River had long been on his radar.

“I had heard about it about a year ago and thought it must have been a rumour,” Tomlin said. “Then I saw this big building (under construction) and I said, ‘Oh, this is real.’ I watched them website for weeks waiting for a job to open up.

Sky River also operates what some labor economists call the “big shakeup” as a tight job market amid California’s rapid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic encourages job seekers to seek out and potentially land better-paying jobs in their field.

the Public Policy Institute of California in April outlined some of the elements at play during this wave of reshuffles: Growing demand for workers is being met with a historically high number of workers quitting.

As the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic continues, more people are leaving the sidelines and re-entering the workforce, coaxed by rising wages in the field where the gaming industry squarely sits. : leisure and hospitality.

Salaries in the leisure and hospitality sector increased by 18% compared to February 2020, according to PPIC.

Although Sky River is entering Sacramento’s fiercely competitive gaming market, VP of Marketing Carrie Gordon said the market offers a hiring advantage — a pool of experienced talent entrenched in the industry and ready to start working.

“There’s talent coming in from every department,” Gordon said. “It’s nice to know that the playing environment in Northern California is always open to change. The talent pool is excited about the potential.

Sky River scouts got off to a flying start on Monday.

“We’ve had 24 tables doing 15-minute interviews in the past four hours – several hundred interviewees and several hundred more in the queue,” the vice president of marketing said Monday afternoon. of Sky River, Carrie Gordon. “We don’t know what the rest of the day will bring, but it was a successful event.”

Rows of more candidates followed a video orientation. Drone footage showed how the construction of the casino is progressing. Workers had poured acres of fresh asphalt to park around the 64-acre site, with much of the facade of the sand-colored multi-story structure rising above the completed Highway 99.

In an earlier interview, Gibase said work on the resort’s kitchens and its 110,000 square foot gaming floor is also advancing rapidly. Plans include up to 2,000 slot machines and over 80 table games on the arcade.

On-site drug testing, gaming commissioners to review identity and credentials, and even card tables for live dealer auditions have made the fair a one-stop-shop for contestants. employment.

“We wanted to make it an on-site hiring event,” Gibase said.

A number of candidates had received job offers while others were being called back for second interviews promising job offers later in the week.

“They have a job offer,” Gordon said. “We have studied their background and they receive everything they need to be a Sky River employee.”

This story was originally published May 13, 2022 5:00 a.m.

Darrell Smith is the Elk Grove reporter for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs and Marysville. Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, and lives in Elk Grove.