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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Nevada Voters to Decide on Tipping Rule

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Nevada dealers have been fighting the good fight to challenge and change Steve Wynn's policy of "tip sharing". Now the dealers want voters to decide the outcome.

Early next year, a group of Nevada dealers will start distributing petitions hoping to acquire enough signatures and support for a voter's initiative. The initiative would prohibit companies like Wynn's from demanding that dealers share tips with their supervisors.

One of the first obstacles the dealers have to overcome is the new state law that makes voter initiatives harder to obtain. To help in this fight the dealers are turning to the American Civil Liberties Union for help.

Under the new law, each state Assembly district must have petition signatures equal to ten percent of the total registered voters. Once the required number of signatures are obtained, then the initiative will qualify to be on the statewide ballot. For the dealers, this ten percent signature rule is another uphill battle. They are afraid many voters in rural areas are unaware of the tipping rule, or worse, won't care about it, as it is not a law affecting their daily lives.

To have a chance at changing the law, the dealers have to file a ballot initiative with the Nevada Secretary of State by January 1, 2008 with a deadline for obtaining the required signatures on November 11, 2008. Even if the dealers are successful with the petition and initiative, the Legislature could choose to either take no action or create a similar bill. In either case, the bill wouldn't be on the ballot until 2010, which offers no timely solution for the dealers.

This push for the ballot initiative may be the dealers last and only chance to change a policy that is totally unfair and detrimental to them being able to make a decent living. Dealers make minimum wage, which in Nevada is now $5.30 an hour IF the employer offers health insurance and $6.33 if they don't. Take away even a portion of dealers' tips, and this minimum wage is nowhere even close to a "living wage".

On the plus side for the dealers is The International Union of Gaming Employees. This is the group that started the union ball rolling to begin with. Now they are coming on board with their own plan for a voter petition to get the tip sharing law changed next year. Also in the plus column is the support from thousands of "tipped" workers in Nevada, who understand, all to well, the devastating financial impact of Wynn's policy, and want to make sure this travesty never happens to them.

Another big plus for dealers is Al Maurice, the Director of the Gaming Employees Union. Maurice has a personal stake in the dealer's fight as he is also a dealer at the Mirage. If he needed more motivation, he could get it from his son who is a dealer at Wynn. Maurice, like the other dealers, are trying to keep their fight in the news and raise public awareness of the tip sharing issue. The dealers are all positive that if Wynn's policy is not shot down, other casinos across the country will follow suit and enact their own tip sharing policy.

On the down side, the dealers have yet to enlist the support of the ACLU, who appears to be sitting on the fence for now, not supporting either side.

Also disappointing are the efforts by the Transport Workers Union that, since May, has represented Nevada dealers. So far the Union has been unsuccessful in negotiating a contract with Wynn to abolish the tip sharing policy. Far off the mark of what the dealers had hoped for, at best the negotiations may result in helping to save a few of the dealer's jobs.

No comment from the Wynn camp, no doubt they are counting on the dealers failing in their efforts to send Wynn's ridiculous tip sharing policy to the trash where it belongs. So far, Wynn's policy has weathered the storm of union drives, lawsuits, labor law complaints and public opinion. To make matters worse for the dealers, Nevada Labor Commissioner, Michael Tanchek, supports Wynn's tip sharing policy. Wynn also has time on his side. No one knows what could happen to the landscape of Nevada/ Las Vegas and labor issues over the next few years. Big changes in the industry could be in effect during the time the dealers have to wait for the bill to come to vote.

This writer can't help but wonder if Mr. Wynn would sit up and take notice if players and gamblers really got behind the dealers and boycotted the Wynn casinos? Money talks, B.S. walks, and Mr. Wynn is walking...with his pockets overflowing, thanks to the very people he is forcing into poverty.

Shame on you Mr. Wynn, I would love to see you try to live on the wages you pay your dealers.

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