The #MeToo movement has sent shockwaves that are now changing the dynamics in workplaces and business environments. Even the casino industry is feeling this. Sexual misconduct in casinos is a reality the world has tolerated for so many years but a movement has finally made it clear enough is enough.
The Las Vegas Situation
In the United States, it is reported that around 9.6% of the sexual harassment cases reported are in Las Vegas. There are claims that casino workers report their experiences of sexual harassment at the same rate or frequency as in other industries. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the casino environment is different from other industries.
Casinos are settings where females are often treated sexually. Girls here are usually dressed in skimpy outfits. Even when they do live dealer casinos, they have to dress up quite revealingly apparently to be enticing to patrons. Their situation may not be on the same level as that of girls in strip clubs or adult entertainment venues, but it can’t be denied that they are subjected to some form of sexual objectification.
The sexual elements that are generally considered taboo or at least being concealed in corporate environments are not as taboo or concealed in the Vegas entertainment industry. Promiscuity and sexual innuendos are the norm and not regarded as unusual and offensive. Las Vegas casinos may look neat and sleek but beneath them are abuses that are difficult to address because of the culture. People have become tolerant of the abuse and harassment laden dynamics in many Las Vegas entertainment spots.
The #MeToo movement, however, is starting to impose changes. These may be slow and not that widespread yet but are nevertheless welcome positive developments. In the area of sports gambling, for example, the F1 decided to put an end to the practice of having grid girls during races. The girls have been replaced by young racing fans or up and coming racers. It’s a small step that does not necessarily mean the end of sexualization in F1 racing but it can be considered a good start.
Still, the culture of sexual objectification is still prominent in the Las Vegas gambling industry. It may take some time before significant changes happen but the good news is that changes are happening. As more women frequent casinos and more women climb up the corporate ladder in the gambling industry, the positive changes are expected to continue.
Steve Wynn’s Fall
Some consider Steve Wynn’s resignation as the most significant milestone in the #MeToo movement as far as the Las Vegas gambling industry is concerned. Wynn’s alleged sexual misconducts were revealed after a comprehensive investigation was pursued by The Wall Street Journal. With his name added to the list of powerful personalities accused of sexual harassment, more women have become empowered to speak up and reveal the stories they would have otherwise kept secret.
Wynn resigned as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts a few days after The Wall Street Journal expose, saying that he can no longer continue to be effective at his job given the environment surrounding the investigation.
Wynn’s resignation has made him the first publicly traded company’s CEO to quit after allegations of sexual misconduct were revealed. This is important as Wynn is not just any CEO of any American company. He is known for his deep ties with politicians and is also perceived to have the backing of a powerful board of directors. The Wall Street Journal, in one of its articles about Wynn, describes the former CEO as a great figure in the wider gambling industry and in Las Vegas. He is also known as a close friend of Donald Trump. He was once the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The #MeToo movement succeeded in making a powerful business figure submit to the pressure of criticism. Wynn’s resignation is a demonstration of how financially and politically powerful individuals can fall even when their accusers are virtually unknown and small. Wynn’s accusers include waitresses, a massage therapist, and a manicurist. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, some of those sexually harassed by Wynn tried to report the incidents to higher up company executives but there were no positive responses.
ICE Totally Gaming
The recent ICE Totally Gaming event in London, in particular, started off with a Playboy-themed show featuring pole dancers. The women in the said opening show were reportedly harassed. Some of them were groped and some of the guests propositioned for sex. Undercover footage that covered the event also caught several companies not heeding the warning against chauvinism by the UK Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison.
Because of the defiance, Sarah Harrison said in a speech that the UK Gambling Commission was contemplating boycotting the event. She emphasized her dislike of the fact that women were “expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits” at the event in London’s ExCel conference center.
The UK’s Labour minister Jess Phillips, in an interview with The Guardian, said that it is time that companies realize that using women’s bodies to sell things to men is debasing for both sexes. Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson, on the other hand, expressed astonishment over the evidence of sexism at the ICE Totally Gaming event. She rebuked the complacent sexism of the gambling companies that participated in the event. Swinson also pointed out the requirement for women to sign non-disclosure agreements by the agencies that hired them, condemning the practice of agencies trying to absolve themselves of the obligation to provide a safe working environment for the people they employ.
The #MeToo movement is a noble endeavor to address sexism and the oft-tolerated sexual misconducts of people in power in various settings. However, it’s important to sustain this movement and to encourage the involvement of more people across all walks of life. Women in the casino industry could use more support and a more prominent presence of the #MeToo movement.
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