As the sun sets on the iconic Tropicana Casino, a beacon of old-school Vegas charm is poised to shimmer away into history. April 2nd marks not just another day in the Sin City calendar, but the final curtain call for this storied institution, a mere two days before its 67th anniversary. While the neon lights dim, a silver lining emerges for many of the Tropicana’s loyal employees—soon to be former employees—tasked with saying goodbye to the hallowed gambling halls in which they’ve spent years, even decades, of their lives.
Through a twist of fate, and thanks to the tenacious negotiation of a labor union contract last December, a generous severance package awaits these seasoned veterans of the Vegas floor. They find themselves at the end of an era with the prospect of financial security; each year of dedication to the Tropicana translates to $2,000 in their pocket, with the fortunate possibility of receiving severance checks topping out at an impressive $60,000.
Enter Ted Pappageorge, the stalwart Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, who earlier this week articulated the significance of this moment via a digitally convened press congregation. “It’s a significant part of that workforce that has been working there for decades,” he professed with the keen insight of a leader who understands the essence of his constituency. Highlighting the transient nature of Las Vegas’s shimmering skyline, Pappageorge roots for the workforce, insisting, “workers can’t be discarded like an old shoe.”
The grand stage of Las Vegas is set for a dramatic transformation; the steel-hearted decision by Bally’s Corporation—the current custodian of the Tropicana name, yet unbound to the legacy of its Caesars-affiliated namesake—envision nothing less than a phoenix-rising spectacle. An ode to progression, Bally’s plans to clear the old to make way for something quintessentially Vegas—a sparkling new baseball stadium primed as the home of the Oakland A’s.
Supported by a sizeable $380 million boost from Nevada’s coffers, the $1.5 billion ballpark is expected to be a home run for the city’s sports scene. But the dice keep rolling, as Bally’s Corp. deals more than just sports into its grand plan—they tease the blueprint of an accompanying casino resort, promising a fresh deck of employment opportunities.
Amidst the strategic reshuffling, Tropicana’s faithful workforce has been presented with a choice: accept the full flush of severance pay or wager for a priority spot in the roster of the yet-to-be-built casino resort. It’s an intriguing proposition, one that bears the hallmarks of Pappageorge’s negotiations—the union’s contract with Tropicana will extend its protective arm around the new establishment, though the hallowed grounds of the sporting complex remain momentarily outside its reach.
Yet, hope is far from lost for the future occupants of this new coliseum. The Culinary Workers Union, armed with an agreement with the A’s, lays the foundations for possible union representation and negotiation within the stadium’s walls.
In an ever-evolving Las Vegas narrative, the gambling oasis of the desert sands continues to reinvent itself. With sporting fervor steadily engrained in its identity, the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ eyes an ambitious future. As Pappageorge mused to Casino.org last year, the city strives to add ‘Sporting Capital of the World’ to its moniker—with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Raiders leading the charge in this rousing tale of revitalization.
Indeed, as one chapter ends with the fall of the Tropicana, another bold story awaits to unfold on the gleaming horizon of the Las Vegas Strip.