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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Michael Barclay

We Should Emulate the Righteous Actions Casino Owners and Pull Together in These Tough Times

In these challenging times, we need to make an extra effort to act righteously, as well as publicly appreciate those who are demonstrating their caring for their fellow human beings.

Despite being one of the industries hit hardest by the economic challenges of the coronavirus, it is ironic and exemplary how the gaming industry is taking care of people. While nearly 650,000 casino employees are out of work, a few companies are going above and beyond to take care of their people. Red Rock Resorts is continuing to pay all employee salaries and benefits through May 15. Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox was the first to close the Wynn’s doors, even before the state of Nevada ordered them shut. But Wynn is paying all of their 13,000 employees their full salaries until at least May 15. When the government of Macao shut down gaming facilities, it cost Wynn $2.6 million every day, mostly in salaries. But they paid the salaries and took care of their people.

Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is still paying all of his 10,000 employees, including their lost tips. This is in addition to the two million masks he personally donated to hospitals and first responders. He explained his logic well in an April 1 op-ed: “Our job as business leaders is now as simple as it is challenging. It is to maximize the number of employees and their families that we can help — and help them for as long as possible.” The actions of these leaders are just and righteous, and one of the foundations of a truly spiritual life.

Justice. Charity. Righteousness. These three concepts are intimately related as can be seen in the biblical language. In Hebrew, the words are nearly identical (tzedek/justice, tzedakah/charity, and tzaddik/a righteous man). We are commanded to always pursue justice (Deut. 16:19), and charity is an integral part of that pursuit. It is ironic that these gaming corporations, headquartered in the “Sin City” of Las Vegas, are acting with more justice, care, and concern for their employees than most of corporate America.

These decisions are clearly for the benefit of working people. CNBC is happy to point out that “yay dividends” has been a mantra for Mr. Adelson since at least 2013 and that the dividends will not be there for now. But they noticeably don’t discuss in any detail how he is taking care of his thousands of employees and their families. I suspect that if Sands paid dividends and did not take care of their employees, CNBC would be quick to publish an article castigating them for that instead. But Mr. Adelson and the other executives at these gaming companies recognize that there are even greater dividends long term.

The long-term business benefits of not having to retrain employees are clear, as is the benefit of having a staff that is loyal to their corporation. But the greater benefit is one of caring for other people. As Mr. Adelson said in his article, “I recall one of the most important lessons I learned from my father. He would come home from work — when he could find work, that is — and put loose change in the family pushke (charity box). When I asked why he would give to others when we had so little, he would say, ‘There is always someone whose need is greater than ours.'”

In these challenging times we must remember this lesson. We must each strive to pursue justice by helping out every individual and family that we can, in every way possible. If we have the financial ability, we need to donate our money to help. If we are unable to give financially, we all have the opportunity to volunteer and help charitable organizations such as Food Care, or make deliveries of food and supplies to those who cannot leave their houses.

It may seem odd to admit, but we all need to emulate the righteous actions of these casinos and pull together in these tough times. These gaming leaders are showing all of us the way to become tzaddikim…righteous men and women.

We may not see the rewards immediately, but the dividends that will be paid will truly make a difference in all our lives.

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