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Half of casino hires were unemployed or working part-time, survey finds

Plainville Ma 06092016 Plainridge Park Casino's gaming floor. Globe/Staff Photographer Jonathan Wiggs

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2016

Plainridge Park Casino's gaming floor.

Half of new employees at Plainridge Park Casino, the state’s first casino, were unemployed or working part-time when they were hired, a new survey has found.

The two-year survey, conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute, also found that 40 percent of new hires at the Plainville slots parlor, which opened in June 2015, said they “needed work” at the time. More than 86 percent had no casino experience before they were hired, researchers found.

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“One of the most important positive impacts of expanded gambling is increased employment,” said Rachel Volberg, principal investigator of a group studying the social and economic impacts of gambling in Massachusetts. “However, in assessing the overall impacts of expanded gambling, it is important to understand whether employment gains at the casino result in the loss of employment in other sectors of the economy and in surrounding communities.”

Major reasons for seeking a job at the casino were career advancement, better wages, and improved benefits.

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The survey found that nearly 93 percent of employees did not move to work at the casino. The small percentage who did relocate were mostly from Massachusetts or Rhode Island, according to the data.

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said the survey indicates the casino is fulfilling its economic promise.

“As we have pointed out repeatedly, the Legislature made broad-based economic development a key focus of the Gaming Act, with a particular focus on local employment for those underemployed and unemployed,” he said. “This report, thus far, demonstrates that legislative intent is being achieved.”

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In March, Plainridge Park Casino brought in $14.1 million in gambling revenue, topping the $14 million mark for the first time since August 2015.

Two full-fledged casinos, each with plans for at least 3,000 slot machines, are being built in Everett and Springfield.

Maddie Kilgannon can be reached at maddie.kilgannon@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaddieKilgannon.
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