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For many working in a casino is a dream come true. Aside from the perks of meeting celebrities playing poker, they also get to receive huge tips from casino patrons. Plus, they also get to meet new people who will become their lifelong friends. Working in the casino, however, means that you also get to experience illnesses due to the nature of your job. In this post, we’ll dive deeper into the common illnesses in the casino industry.
First, let’s look at the current legislation and regulations that govern the industry.
Regulating the Casino Industry
In the US, the casino industry must adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and regulations. According to OSHA, each casino must have a written safety plan policy that must address specific health and safety concerns that are particular in the area. As such, it allows workers to prevent accidents, such as slips and falls while performing their duties. In Nevada, casino workers must complete a 10-hour training course on health and safety within the first 15 days of hire.
Illnesses in the Casino Industry
While regulations do exist, there are still common illnesses in the casino industry. Here are some of them:
Since casino dealers are typically client-facing, they often have no choice but to serve players who would smoke. Often, a table of eight players with all of them smoking continuously. This means that this exposure to second-hand smoke predisposes them to suffer from a wide range of cancers, such as breast cancer for which they are at risk by 42% more than those who don’t have second-hand smoke exposure. Aside from breast cancer, casino dealers also often suffer lung cancer.
In a 2006 study reported by the Surgeon General of the United States, it was found that it’s difficult to ascertain a safe level for second-hand smoke exposure. The primary reason being that ventilation systems do not have the capacity to filter smoke. This also means that allocating a “non-smoking area” is futile because they don’t really keep the smoke away.
In fact, the study has found that heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in an enclosed space can distribute the smoke throughout the entire building rather than eliminating it.
An early study even found that casino workers, by history, are the ones with higher exposure levels to nicotine than any other worker in the US. Each worker would, on average, spend about $112 annually in direct medical costs, simply because of their exposure to secondhand smoke.
2. Heart Attack
Secondhand smoke would typically have a direct negative effect on an individual’s blood and blood vessels. When this happens, the risk of cardiovascular events is high. Breathing in nicotine via secondhand smoke will alter the regular function of the heart and vascular system that it can cause heart attacks. Even being exposed to secondhand smoke in a short time can already cause thinning of blood vessels and thickening of blood clotting. Those with preexisting heart diseases can suffer more severely so precautions should be taken.
3. Hearing Loss
One of the allures of a casino to its patrons is the inviting sound of coins jingling, slot machines whirring, cards shuffling, and even the casino players laughing and talking over each other. On top of all these, casinos would typically have background music and even sound coming from live performers. To the guests, these sounds may be inviting. However, for workers constantly exposed to these noises, it can be damaging. That said, hearing loss is another of the illnesses in the casino industry that you would commonly see.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a research organization responsible for making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness, did a noise evaluation in 2003. However, they failed to find sufficient evidence that the noise levels in casinos can cause hearing loss. Since the assessment was done while the casino was not at its busiest. As such, NIOSH recommended that casino operators must do preventive measures. They should do a mandatory reevaluation when installing new equipment they think would add to the noise level on the casino floor.
One of the ways casino operators can somehow lessen the level of noise is by separating the arcade from the slot machines. This way, workers won’t need to deal with prolonged exposure to loud noise.
4. Asthma and Allergic Reactions
Casino workers also have to count metal coins, which increases their exposure to metal dust. Often, this can cause asthma attacks and even irritation of the eye and nose. While the NIOSH research showed that the levels of copper, nickel, and zinc are below the exposure limit, workers can still suffer from exposure.
Asthma and allergic reactions can also be caused by secondhand smoke. Often, casino workers would complain of throat irritation and chronic cough.
Casino dealers are not the only ones at risk. Those working in bars are the ones at risk the most because their location is where casino players would typically smoke. Bartenders and even waitresses complain of how hard it is to breathe when serving their guests.
Casino workers often work in different shifts. Often, those who take the night shift are at the risk of developing insomnia. Just imagine constantly changing your body clock to adjust to your working hours. Since the casino is most alive and at its busiest at night, most of them would be overworked.
Casino operators are recommended to assign a worker on a consistent shift instead of constantly rotating their schedules between days and nights. It’s also important to have more workers at night so they can efficiently delegate the work, effectively preventing fatigue among workers.
6. Psychosocial Problems
Casino workers may be among those who earn a lucrative salary. However, it may mean that they are exposed to stress and anxiety than their peers who work in a different industry. Working in shifts may also cause them to have problems in their family life since they often work long hours and they don’t get to spend time with their family. A study has shown that workers who work in shifts often have marriages that end up in divorce due to increased stress and anxiety caused by pressure at work.
Panic attacks are also pretty common among casino workers, particularly when they are operating at the busiest time of the night and have only a few workers for that particular shift. There is fear that they will forget their tasks or commit mistakes when dealing with the cards or serving orders. When this happens, they fear they would lose their job over a mistake.
Additionally, casino workers, when compared to other workers in a different industry, are at a higher risk of succumbing to gambling issues, substance abuse, and even depression due to the frequent exposure and temptation at the workplace.
7. Physical Injuries
Casino workers, particularly, dealers for poker, baccarat, blackjack, or any table game, would often do the same motion over and over again for several hours. This makes them at risk for experiencing repetitive strain injuries.
Some workers in charge of lifting or reaching can cause nerve compression and even musculoskeletal injury on the arms, lower back, and even their legs. Table game dealers often complain of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Those working in the kitchen preparing food would also be at high risk for burns since they need to serve their patrons and guests in the quickest way possible.
Sprains are also among the common illnesses in the casino industry, particularly for those who need to rush to serve their patrons. They are also common for those who need to do physical performances to entertain guests. Some dealers running tables games who need to stand for long periods may also complain of leg pain.
Another situation that can put casino workers at risk for physical injuries is the higher instance of dealing with players who may become aggressive or agitated on the table. Some of these guests may blame the dealer when they lose or even provoke other players to a fight. Take note that emotions would usually run high when gambling, mainly for those casinos that allow alcohol consumption while playing.
There may also be some instances when casino lenders would threaten guests while playing, which can result in a commotion during the game.
Now that you have an idea of the common illnesses in the casino industry, make sure to consider them should you decide to get into the profession. Think about it and see if you have the guts and the grit to last in the industry. If you have pre-existing diseases, you may want to consult with your doctor and get a clearance before you can land a job. Working in the casino industry takes a lot of commitment and motivation.
While they may be paying good money, it’s good if you can consider if you’re healthy enough to take on the challenges in the casino industry. Do you think you have what it takes to be a casino worker? Or are these illnesses in the casino industry got you thinking that you’ll be better of playing poker with your friends?