Hard Rock, Seminole Gaming investing $100M to raise US employee starting wages

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Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming announced on Tuesday a $100 million investment to raise starting wages for half of its U.S. workforce at company-managed hotel, café and casino locations nationwide.

The new starting wages will range between $18 and $21 an hour – more than 2.5 times the federal minimum wage and exceeding each U.S. state minimum wage – with minimal exceptions. On average, most eligible employees will see a 40% increase in their starting wage, while some employees will see increases of over 60%. 

The wage hike affects approximately 95 job classifications, including cooks, housekeepers, security and call center employees. Hard Rock and Seminole have a combined U.S. workforce of 20,000 employees.

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Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming Chairman Jim Allen told FOX Business that inflation and the current macroeconomic environment are both driving factors behind the wage increases. 

"There are so many people that really are struggling to make ends meet," Allen said. "We just felt compelled that we wanted to do the right thing for our employees."

In July, consumer prices rose 8.5% year over year, cooling slightly but remaining near the highest level in 40 years. On Tuesday, the Labor Department will release its consumer price index for August.

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Hard Rock has a presence in over 70 countries, spanning 265 locations that include owned/licensed or managed Rock Shops, live performance venues and cafés.

Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming have announced a $100 million investment to raise starting wages for more than 8,500 employees at company-managed hotel, café and casino locations nationwide. (Hard Rock International)

Though Hard Rock struggled with labor shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen said the issue has "subsided tremendously" since the U.S. and other markets have reopened for business. 

"There's certainly, always in hospitality, a challenge trying to find positions," he said. "But I think the big impact that was created through the COVID virus is no longer a major factor."

He noted that business has been "extremely strong" for the company's casino division and that its hotel business has recovered "very, very nicely." 

"In certain markets, the cafés have recovered," Allen added. "In other markets, places like Europe, where there is obviously just so much turmoil based upon challenges with fuel and challenges with energy, that's a market that's lagging. And then you look at certain parts of the Far East, there's no business. So it really is a mixed bag."

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Looking ahead, Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming are focused on longevity and retaining the "highest caliber" employees. 

"We're certainly not in a mindset of cutting any way we can in order to just save short term and potentially lose the focus of the long-term quality of service that we're trying to provide to our guests," Allen said. 

There are currently more than 1,600 Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming jobs available at the new starting wage rates.

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