MILWAUKEE — Potawatomi Hotel & Casino returned to allowing full capacity for the first time in more than a year.
It’s at full capacity but not full operation as several key activities, including bingo, are yet to come back online. The Menomonee Valley operation’s ability to ramp up will depend on workforce recruitment and training and will affect everyone in the State of Wisconsin.
“My crystal ball is broken,” joked Sheryl Schnering, Interim CEO/General Manager of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. “It really depends on when we can get people in here, team members in here,” she said, referring to when other functions will get back to normal inside the casino.
As of this week, automated games like slots and video poker are all back after being at reduced capacity for the last year. Restaurants will remain carry out only, however. Along with bingo, live table games like craps, blackjack, and roulette will be slow to return.
“Our biggest challenge right now is finding staff. I'm sure that's something you're hearing throughout the city,” Schnering explained. “We want to ramp up as quickly as we can, but it's really been challenging to find people to work here. We have over 190 positions open right now. And that's before we open up table games and bingo and some of the other things.”
Pre-pandemic, the operation boasted 2,600 employees. Today, it’s 1,100. PHC went dark for three months at the beginning of the COVID shut down in Wisconsin, and then only returned to partial operations in early June of 2020.
Schnering believes lifting more COVID rules as they did this week will help bring more guests back. “I'm most excited that our guests are going to be able to come here. They're not going to have to wear masks anymore, which I think is going to help us a lot,” Schnering said.
Potawatomi has agreements to make annual payments based on revenue to the State, Milwaukee County, and City of Milwaukee. For this reason, the better the Casino does, the better those budgets do. Payments to the City and County were down 18 percent in 2020, compared with 2019, from $6.1 million to $4.4 million each.
Some changes may stay long-term. Video table games, where guests place bets digitally at their own, distanced kiosks, may stick around. For now, the casino will remain smoke-free as well.
PHC is hiring. Click here for a link to available jobs and applications.
Consider it a personal invitation from the CEO, “I love working here. It’s a great place to work.”