Wynn Las Vegas Loses a Lawsuit involving Tip-Sharing Policies for Dealers
Wynn Las Vegas casino dealers have won a federal lawsuit in Nevada against the Las Vegas Strip casino, as well as its owner, Steve Wynn. The dealers are suing to have a Wynn Las Vegas policy struck down. The policy forces them to share their tips with other casino employees, a policy they believe is unfair.
A federal appeals court ruled that the dealers’ tips should not be taken from them. The judge’s ruling might mean Wynn Resorts owes their dealers millions of dollars in unpaid money. More than a hundred dealers sued the Wynn Las Vegas, claiming they each lose more than a thousand dollars a month by having their tips raided.
Changes Go Back to 2006
One anonymous dealer said he has lost between $1,000 and $2,000 a month by having his tips garnished to pay other non-serving employees. 2006 is the year Steve Wynn instituted a tip-pooling policy. The tips are shared with other employees, including the dealers’ bosses (like floor supervisors).
The dealers filed a suit in a Nevada state court in 2016, but that suit was denied by the judge. Las Vegas casinos pay large sums to the Nevada State Treasury, and many of the state’s laws are designed to give the advantage to the casinos. Lawyers for the dealers appealed to a federal court, where the judge decided the players had a case.
Steve Wynn’s 2008 Explanation
Steve Wynn explained the policy to the local FOX5 station in 2008. Wynn told the news station it was impossible to get qualified supervisors to move into those positions under the previous set of policies, because it represented a loss of revenues to the supervisors.
Wynn told the station, “The dealer tip pool became astronomically big, 55 million dollars. There’s never been a number like that before. Now, we’ve got dealers that are taking care of people standing next to them are team leaders or floor men that are responsible for four tables; for the same thing dealers are for talking to customers, making friends, buying them drinks, serving them.”
“The floor meant were making $65,000 a year, the dealers were making $100,000 a year, and no one wanted to be a floor man.”
2011 Dealer Tips Case
Dealers won a similar casino in 2011, against casinos like Encore and Wynn Las Vegas. In that 2011 case, the Nevada courts ruled on behalf of the casinos, but a federal judge in the Ninth District Court of Appeals overturned the case.
UNLV Professor on the Consequences
Ruben Garcia, a UNLV law professor, said the Wynn Las Vegas now has two options: appeal the case to a higher court or pay the dealers. Garcia said damages in such a case could be high, because of the volume of money offered to dealers through gratuities.
Garcia said, “The damages do tend to add up based on even 3 years or 6 years. So, you are talking about a large damage award.”
FOX5 News asked for a comment on the March 14 ruling from a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, but that request was declined.
Wynn Resorts Policies
It sounds like the sensible thing would have been for Wynn Resorts to have offers floor supervisors a big raise, to make their paycheck commensurate with their duties. Instead, Wynn Las Vegas decided to institute an unpopular and unfair policy to take that money from their employees’ paychecks, instead of their own bottom line.
Now, it appears that Wynn Las Vegas might have to pay, after all. The Las Vegas casino could keep the case held up in court for an indefinite period of time, based on the appellate process. It is possible the strategy is to make the dealers impatient to collect their back gratuities, so Wynn Las Vegas could offer them a plea bargain at a reduced rate.
It might be a better idea for morale to pay off the dealers and then raise the pay for the floor supervisors, but that would require a dramatic increase in salaries going forward — which is unlikely to be popular with board members.
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