Though Noah Hawley’s novel’s ending is anti-climactic, it captures 21st century public angst. The author’s clever plot reminds reader/listeners of the recent American Presidential election.
Hawley’s story alludes to American government agency ineptitude, a newspaper’s closure for indiscriminate phone taps, and American television’s news bias. Hawley handily skewers the free-press, television news, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in “Before the Fall”.
Though the action of the story takes place in America, it seems equally applicable to the Brexit decision and public discontent in the United Kingdom.
The essence of the story is about a private plane crash that kills all but two passengers, a 4-year-old boy and a 47-year-old artist. The artist is a recently recovered alcoholic who manages to rescue the boy and save himself by swimming several hours after a crash in the Atlantic. The artist is initially recognized as a hero. The boy becomes the sole heir to a 300-million-dollar fortune which becomes a news reporter’s rationale for questioning the artist’s honesty, motive, and miraculous survival. By gathering illegally tapped phone information, the reporter’s rationale is reinforced by a FBI investigator’s phone calls. It is determined that the crash is deliberate. The mystery is who did it and why.
The illegal wiretapping reminds one of Murdoch’s employee in a British tabloid that had to be closed. The attack by a TV news reporter of a hero reminds one of Fox and CNN News reporting that drives for sensational stories rather than truth.
A FBI investigation of the motive of a victim is testament to government ineptitude. The Illegal wiretapping of private phone calls is testament to mistrust of reporters. News conservative and liberal bias is testament to mistrust of the general media.
The victims in Hawley’s story are two wealthy families, the artist, a body-guard, and the flight crew. One of the business leaders is a media mogul and the other is a deal maker. Both moguls are tainted by questionable ethics. The deal maker is a criminal for laundering money for countries forbidden to be traded with by the American government. The media mogul is aware of illegal wiretapping being done by one of his newscasters to boost television ratings. Hawley shows the media owner directs his TV news manager to stop the newscaster’s illegal wire-tapping but does not suggest the reporter is to be fired. There is an inference that the TV mogul is going to sweep the wire-tapping under the rug in the hope it is not discovered. In any case, the death of the mogul allows the reporter to continue wiretapping to create a sensational and false “news” story.
What creates the mystery are possible motives for the plane crash when no mechanical failure is found. The money-launderer is working with criminals that have heard he may be indicted. The media-mogul has a body-guard that is not found in the plane wreckage. There are bullet holes in the fuselage of the plane. A co-pilot has a sketchy reputation.
Because the money-launderer works with criminals, maybe a contract for murder is executed. The media-mogul’s body-guard has a reputation for surviving horrendous circumstances. Could he have been hired as a contract killer? The co-pilot is a last-minute addition to the crew. Did he have an unknown motive that accidentally leads to his own death? Is the hero somehow guilty? Who is the murderer?
Hawley’s story is a take-down of news media, and government by revealing the nature of human beings. The media’s drive for sensation provided the American President a forum for his own self-interest, at the expense of the common good. The FBI Director chose actions unbecoming a government agency that is intended to serve and protect the American public.
The United Kingdom chose Brexit to escape the European Union’s open borders. To many, the Brexit escape is at the expense of the general public’s economic well-being. As Daniel Kahneman (an Israeli-American psychologist) notes, “We’re blind to our blindness.” The coda of the story is — who can you trust to tell the truth; and maybe, what is the truth?
A Curious Career is about the art of being nosy. Lynn Barber is more than a legend in her own mind. She is a clever British journalist and author that graduated from Oxford, went to work for Bob Guccione at “Penthouse”, and later created a career in journalism. With a keen sense of what titillates the general public, Barber honed interview skills that elicit the best and worst of famous people of the late 20th and early 21st century.
The youthful voice of Alison Larkin recalls a young energetic Lynn Barber that interviews personalities that range from the weird Salvador Dali to the athletic Rafael Nadal. Along the way, Barber explains how a quality interview is created. Barber notes that using a tape recorder sets a stage for her craft; not with intent to make one nervous but to emphasize the beginning of a serious and professional interview. Barber always tapes her interviews to be sure accurate quotes are used in her articles. Barber explains the interview itself is her least favorite part of the process because of time constraint, and the difficulty of eliciting information that makes an article interesting to read.
Preparation is a key to a good interview. Questions are created in advance, based on background investigation of the person to be interviewed. A favorite follow-up question for Barber is “why” because it elicits more personal and real information. Barber focuses on details because they personalize her articles. Details range from what a person is wearing to the way they talk. Good background information leads to questions about what a person “did not” say in a previous public article. Barber focuses her questions on those un-revealed pieces of an interviewee’s life.
Barber explains that Dali was interviewed when she worked for Penthouse. She enjoyed the interview because of Dali’s uninhibited personality and unsolicited comments; i.e. comments ranging from masturbation as a sexual preference to signing blank pieces of paper, with Dali’s explanation that he is printing money. The blank pieces of paper become doodled pictures by others who would sell them as Dali originals.
When Rafael Nadal is nearing number one on the tennis circuit, Barber interviews him with questions that infer he is gay. Nadal is in his mid-twenties at the time of the interview. Barber’s background investigation shows that Nadal announced he has a girlfriend in his native county. However, with follow-up questions, Barber finds the girlfriend rarely comes to his matches. Nadal only occasionally visits his girl’s home when not playing tennis. This is proof of nothing but there is an underlying inference in Barber’s article. One might conclude this is one of the reasons people hate interviews that are publicly reported. Many might say who cares if Nadal is or is not gay, but after writing the article, Barber receives death threats and becomes a minor league twitterverse’ superstar.
There are a number of similar anecdotes in Barber’s memoir. On one hand, it is easy to see why there is a battle between the press and the famous; on the other hand, what Barber reveals is what the public is often most interested in knowing. A more palatable anecdote is Barber’s interview of Jimmy Savile with questions about his lascivious treatment of young girls, before it is known by the general public. (In 2011, Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile dies in disgrace.) A Curious Career is a primer for aspiring journalists; particularly for those who use the interview process to reveal the truth of what is important.
Union strikes are big news. They stop traffic, interrupt business, and disrupt lives. But “big news” hides the real story, the things that union’s do that few know about.
Crystal Slaughter is a Teamster member, President of WACA (Western Apprenticeship Coordinators Association), and Director of Convention and Construction Training for Teamsters Local 631. Slaughter set up a meeting to discuss union apprenticeship programs. Slaughter invited Tommy Blitsch who is the Union Chairman of Teamsters 631 Convention Training Program, and Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 631.
Every convention that comes to town is dependent on performance of Teamsters to deliver, set up, and breakdown convention exhibits. Las Vegas could not be the convention superstar it is without union help. That help begins with a training program organized by Teamsters Local 631 that specializes in convention construction and customer service.
Slaughter said, “We just opened applications for our (Convention Training) program and had nearly 1,000 people apply.” Slaughter noted that Teamsters Local 631 offers applicants America’s “…premier tradeshow and convention industry training program”. Local 631 created the first Department of Labor’-accredited and registered convention apprenticeship program in the United States. As part of training in transport, set-up, and breakdown, Teamsters Local 631 offers OSHA safety classes, certification and re-certification of Journeyman equipment operators, and earned credits toward a college degree. Slaughter said, “Since 2001, we have trained over 1,000 apprentices who are now Journeyman and Convention Industry professionals. (For more information call 702-651-0344 or email Cslaughter@631train.com.)
Careers are made by Union Apprenticeship programs.
Meeting Bobbie Whitmore, a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, offers a behind-the-curtain look at a union member. Whitmore said, “I have been a union member for 34 years.” Having started in the hospitality industry, Whitmore felt there was another career to better suit her ambition.
Whitmore said, “I was introduced to the Carpenters’ Union through CETA (the Comprehensive Employment Training Act passed during the Nixon Administration) and began volunteering to support and recruit women to join the union.” With that union introduction, Whitmore joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters to apprentice with a Journeyman Carpenter. Whitmore explained, “It changed my life”. Whitmore’s take-home pay as an apprentice doubled after joining the union. She raised 6 children on her family’s income.
Whitmore is now the “Female Programs & Outreach Coordinator” for the “Southwest Carpenters Training Fund”, located at 4131 E. Bonanza Road in Las Vegas. Whitmore participates as a fund representative at colleges, high schools and community organizations to share the opportunities available for men and women through apprenticeship training. Whitmore said, “Construction is still considered a man’s job by many, which creates its own challenges, but the key to achievement in any field is education.” She goes on to say, “We need more women applying for apprenticeships in all trades because recruitment is not keeping pace with member retirement.”
The “Southwest Carpenters Training Fund” is a non-profit union affiliate that promotes and trains men and women for a career in the carpentry fields. The “…Training Fund” is designed to teach construction specialties ranging from foundation form work to drywall finishing to general carpentry and weatherization. It is a myth to suggest construction was better before the advent of construction specialization. Without training offered by unions like the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, quality construction would suffer, production would diminish, and worker safety would decrease.
In looking at the website for the “Southwest Carpenters Training Fund” (www.swctf.org), one can see that there are career opportunities in the carpentry fields. The website is a good information source on how to start a career in construction.
Whitmore introduced Lily McCann and Jeffrey Kelley, two apprentices in the program. McCann explained, “I was working two jobs when my mother told me about a Union apprenticeship opportunity.” McCann said, “It helped to know someone to get into the program but once enrolled, it offered a career opportunity for a working mom.”
Jeffrey Kelley just graduated from “Job Corps” in Colorado. He said, “Job Corps” gave me work experience that improved my eligibility for a Union apprenticeship job through the ‘Southwest Carpenters Training Fund’”. Whitmore explained, “Getting into an Apprenticeship program is a great opportunity because you get paid while you are learning.” Whitmore noted, “It is important for young people to get a high school diploma or GED because basic education is essential for success in the workplace.”
Ron Warde, a Site Facilitator for SWCTF, said, “Every Carpenter apprentice and Journeyman receive a training card with a posted QR code that provides every employer a detailed resume of carpentry experience and job safety training for the person pictured on the card”.An employer knows exactly what training and certifications a union employee has when he/she comes to the job. Warde explained, “When an employer calls for a particular number of foundation framers, finish carpenters, drywall hangers, or drywall finishers, the union is able to respond with exactly what the employer needs.” Union training reduces an employer’s concern about job safety training and work qualification when union employees come to the job.
A part of job satisfaction comes from camaraderie inherent in being a part of something larger than one self. The “Southwest Carpenters Training Fund” sponsors a labor fest once a year (except for last year because of the economy) to celebrate the experience that apprentice and journeymen union members receive through training and work. Food, competition, and education fill the hall in a celebration of American labor.
Marvin Gebers, the Director of Training for the Operative, Plasterers & Cement Masons, is always looking for new apprentices. Three of the most physically demanding jobs in construction are concrete placement and finish, masonry, and plastering. Gebers said, “When the market was blowing and going, we had 2,000 skilled laborers in this Local–now, we have less than 1,100.” Gerbers indicated that reduction in members is related to the market but a big concern is retiring journeymen and lack of young people coming into the trades.
Gerbers explained, “We are competing with higher education, office work, and less rigorous physical requirements of other jobs.” Anyone wishing to join the OPCM, must have a high school diploma and be willing to work hard. Before being considered for training, an aspiring apprentice needs to pass a written test which includes basic math and geometry learned in high school.
A chosen apprentice has the opportunity to be paid while learning how to work. There is no guarantee of on-job training because it depends on market demand but at least there is an opportunity to earn while you learn. A qualified applicant will spend 4 years with 640 hours of class and 5,000 hours of on-job-training to become a journeyman. Gebers explained, “We are presently teaching two classes with the first having 10 cement masons and 12 plasterers, and a second class with 6 cement masons and no plasterers.” The apprentices range in age from 22 to 50. Gerbers said, “The College of Southern Nevada offers 29 college credits for successful completion of the OPCM classes.”
This is hard work. It is not for everyone but apprenticeship wages, when jobs are available, are 50% to 70% of journeyman wages, or between $17 and $20 per hour take home pay. As the apprentice becomes more skilled, health benefits become part of their pay package.
An applicant needs to be physically fit as well as educationally prepared. Plasterers and masons, like many trade disciplines, are primarily taught through Union apprenticeship programs like that offered by Local 797 of the Operative, Plasterers & Cement Masons union. Marvin Gebers can be contacted at (702) 452-8809 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another fascinating trade is represented by Jon Yunker, the President/Coordinator of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators. The union apprenticeship telephone number is (702) 649-7897. Yunker’s email address is email@example.com . (Yunker is also a General Foreman for Southwest Specialty Contractors.)
Yunker and Aaron Quiroz, V.P. Local #135 (who is also an instructor for the class room), offered a guided tour during one of the evening classes. Yunker explained, “All fabrication in these class rooms was done by students or journeymen that contributed their time to demonstrate skills of the trade.”
Yunker said, “We are considered one of the best heat and frost insulator apprenticeships in the country”. Nearly every casino in Las Vegas has been worked on by apprentices taught at this school. Everything from heat gain and loss analysis to insulation fabrication for heating and cooling systems is taught at this school. Yunker noted, “Thousands of dollars in monthly office and casino building operating costs have been saved through conservation measures made by heat and frost insulators trained at this school.”
The heat and frost insulator school is totally supported by unions that are part of WACA. No other educational facility offers more hands on practical experience. A Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) will select apprentices for the training. When applications are open (advertised 2X/year in the Las Vegas Review Journal), six criteria must be met by aspiring apprentices.
Birth Certificate 18 years of age. Original will be photocopied and returned.
High School Diploma or G.E.D. Original will be photocopied and returned.
High School Transcripts. Original will be photocopied and returned.
Must be physically able to perform the work of the trade.
Those who meet the minimum qualifications will be scheduled for an oral interview.
Those applicants selected are subject to a substance abuse test, prior to being selected for the apprenticeship program. The date and time to be determined.
Once an apprentice signs up, he/she will attend a minimum of five years of night school with 720 hours of classroom training and 8,000 hours of On-the-Job-Training. A Commercial Apprentice will earn 50% of Commercial Journeyman wages when on the job (Journeymen presently earn $41/hour). Union schools, unlike academic institutions, pay students to learn through on-the-job experience.
Moshe Bialac is a Socratic gadfly for Southwest unions. By title, he is the Statewide Job Coordinator at Nevada State AFL-CIO but one of his specific tasks, sponsored by a State of Nevada grant, is to assist employees that have received warning notices of imminent layoffs. When large employers face economic conditions that require mass layoffs, Bialac assists management in transitioning the soon-to-be-unemployed through a “Rapid Response Lay-Off Aversion” program.
Bialac travels the State, from Gabbs to Ely—from Jackpot to Las Vegas, to help employees work through loss of their jobs. Bialac explains how to write resumes, change careers, and capitalize on learned skills. In his travels, he speaks at special events, K-12 schools, and Indian Reservations to emphasize the importance of getting a basic education.
Bialac said, “People often do not realize how much they know and how many of their skills translate to other kinds of jobs.” He adds, “There are many training opportunities offered by Nevada Unions that are not known by job seekers.” Losing a job is hard. Jobs give American’s identity. Bialac knows what it is like to change direction in life. Working in the film industry, Bialac lost the use of his legs in a camera accident. Bialac’s experience reinforces the talks he gives at Rapid Response meetings.
In his bag of brochures, Bialac carries a Nevada State AFL-CIO pamphlet titled “A Directory of Nevada Unions and Training Programs”. There are 65 pages of contact numbers for apprenticeship programs sponsored by various Union Locals throughout the State of Nevada.
Bialac noted, “Rural youths are difficult to recruit into trades because they do not know or understand their alternatives.” College is often out of reach because of its expense. The military is an avenue out of town, but now the military is becoming less available. Bialac said, “A part of my mission in life is to explain to young and old that there are many alternatives for a good and prosperous life in Nevada.”
Learning a trade carries as much weight as a college degree. Unions help make a good life possible for many who cannot afford college or cannot wait to begin their adult life. Union apprenticeships are a win-win for American society.
Las Vegas leaps into the film and television business in 2013 with its first boutique school. The new school is the International Academy of Film and Television, a school designed to educate students in the business of film making and acting.
IAFT is planning its first classes in November 2013. Suzanne Noel (office 702 454-3469, cell 716 830-0772), a former Director of Admissions at the Art Institute of Las Vegas, is the Senior Admissions Director. The doors of IAFT are barely open but Noel said, “We are ready for enrollment with our first classes scheduled to begin November 11, 2013.”
Some building modifications are required to accommodate cameras, sound equipment, lights, and digital needs of the school but Noel insists the school will be ready to open in November.
The Campus Director, Ron Herbes, said, “My life has been a preparation for starting a school like this.” Herbes began working in the film industry when his father was Director-VP of Facilities at 20th Century Fox Film Corporation in Ventura, California. Working at Fox Film Corporation, Universal Studios, Disney and many major Hollywood studios, Herbes lived and learned everything he could about acting, film, and sound production in the movie and television industry. His lessons in learning-by-doing are the sine qua non of his philosophy for IAFT.
Herbes was involved in every aspect of the film industry from editing to post production supervision. Though still young, Herbes said, “I have been in the industry for 20 years, working on thousands of films and a number of television series.” In 2001, Herbes moved to Las Vegas to teach audio and visual media to local studios and schools as a consultant.
Rather than continue as an independent consultant, Herbes was hired by International Academy of Design & Technology to expand their existing Audio Program. The program grew to be the largest Audio training program in Nevada. Herbes was promoted to Manager of Community Relations until his departure in September of 2013.
Rumors were spreading that a film making and actor training school was planning entry into Las Vegas. Herbes called IAFT on August 26th, interviewed on August 28th, and started work September 16, 2013.
The International Academy of Film and Television was founded by Michael Gleissner in 2004 in the Philippines. After Gleissner’s success with IAFT’s Cebu island school in the Philippines, Gleissner started schools in Miami, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.
IAFT offers two and four-term programs for filmmaking and acting. Depending on student interest and performance, the two term program leads to a Certificates of Completion and the four term program leads to a Diploma. The Cebu school contains “state of the art” equipment according to IAFT’s promotional brochure.
Herbes is the Las Vegas Campus Director. His plan, which worked well in the past, is to recruit filmmakers and actors that are active in their professions to be teachers. They will teach interested students the art and administration of filmmaking, screenwriting, and acting based on their personal experience. The design of classes is based on industry fundamentals with hands-on work in film editing, screen writing, and acting as part of the curriculum. Herbes will hire active filmmakers and actors that have the time to teach classes based on the school’s curriculum.
Acting and filmmaking are the arts of the movie and television industry. An aspiring actor or filmmaker needs enthusiasm and talent but training and contacts are the ingredients that create entertainment industry breaks. Classes with teachers that are actively working in the industry are inherently contact relevant. Herbes’ management approach to IAFT’s Las Vegas School synergistically reinforces career opportunities.
IAFT offers a unique opportunity for continuing education. A high school diploma is not enough for most people to succeed in America. Every industry opportunity is suffused with an element of “who-you-know” and Herbes’ idea of attracting industry experts to teach the crafts of film making and acting offers industry contacts as well as education and experience.
The school will open its doors with 4 full-time employees but will be staffed by part-time industry professionals based on their job experience and the curriculum of IAFT. As the school grows, more full-time staff will be hired with continued emphasis on teachers that have learned their profession by working in the industry.
There are two ten week terms in the Certificate program and four ten week terms in the Diploma program. Each term at the school will have 140 classroom hours and 85 lab hours. Classes will range from screenwriting to film making to financing, marketing, and distribution. Lab hours will include on job training with everything from acting exercises to film editing to sound production. The maximum students-to-teacher ratio in class rooms or labs is 12:1.
Classes will be held 4 days or evenings per week with an additional 8 ½ hour lab per week. The first two terms are the same for the Certificate and Diploma programs. The Diploma program extends the training of the first two terms but adds documentary film making, financing, marketing & distribution, career development and other advanced classes.
Film making labs will include cameras, microphones, lighting instruments, lighting control equipment, cables, camera, lighting support hardware, and computers. Acting labs will include costumes, wigs, make-up and props.
The school plans to have a lending library of film making books, magazines and periodicals with the library open to students from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday-Friday, except for holidays. According to the school catalog, students“…will have access to ‘The Filmmakers Series DVD Collection. This is IAFT’s customized instructional series featuring essential basic methods on screenwriting, directing and cinematography.”
There are four criteria for graduation. To receive a Certificate of Completion or Diploma, a student must:
Achieve a minimum cumulative average grade percentage of 70%.
Attend 90% of course hours.
Complete all courses.
Pay tuition in full and be cleared of all financial obligations.
Graduates from IAFT are offered help for job placement after graduation. According to the IAFT catalog, the school will maintain a “…current list of industry job openings and makes this information available to graduates.” There are no guarantees of job placement but getting a job after graduation is everyone’s goal. Networking is certainly given a head start by the structure of Herbes’ plan to use industry employees to teach classes.
According to IAFT’s 2013-2014 Catalog, Las Vegas’s IAFT’ school is licensed by the State to “…operate as a private postsecondary institution.”
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accredits IAFT and offers a limited number of grants for attendance. All prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED to apply to IAFT. Also, the new Las Vegas school will have a limited number of IAFT 50/50 scholarship awards. Noel provided a scholarship application package that explains there are three criteria for eligibility:
A high level of motivation to train for a career in film or acting
Minimum GPA 2.50 from the last school graduated; and
Household earnings are under $40,000 per year, and a need is determined.
Students will be interviewed by the Admissions Director to confirm student interest and course offerings. Tuition ranges from $3,990 to $12,990.
IAFT is not the only school in Las Vegas that teaches the business of filmmaking and acting but it is the only school that specializes in those disciplines. UNLV offers an undergraduate program in the “Department of Film”. The undergraduate classes include English composition, literature, American history, mathematics, social science, computer science, foreign language, electives, and finally, film classes. It is a four year program for a generalized education leading to a Bachelor’s Degree.
There are also some acting “schools” in Las Vegas. There is John Armond “Actor’s Studio” and Brad Garrett’s “Acting Classes”. John Armond offers class times on Mondays from 6:00 p.m. To 8:30 p.m. for $125/month and private lessons for $60/hour. Brad Garrett’s school is taught by Adam Hill, an actor that has worked on and off-Broadway. Classes for Garrett’s school are $175/month for one class per week or $225/month for two classes per week.
IAFT is a completely different approach to filmmaking and actor training. It is a boutique school with a singularly focused agenda.
IAFT’s address is 6363 S. Pecos Rd., Suite 103, Las Vegas, NV 89120. The school is off the main street but is ideal for class study and offers great potential for growth. Herbes said, “I can see a studio lot being created in the available warehouses behind the school.”
Timing could not be better. After some cheerleading from Mayor Carolyn Goodman and lobbying by actor Nicolas Cage, Governor Sandoval signed tax incentive legislation for the film and television industry to encourage film making and movie production in Nevada. Laura Carroll wrote in the Las Vegas Review Journal–“Beginning Jan. 1, productions that shoot at least 60 percent in-state can earn transferable tax credits of 15 percent to 19 percent of their qualified production expenses, including Nevada cast, crew, labor, gear, rentals, purchases and expenses.”
Las Vegas seems primed for job growth in the film and television industry. The table is set with Herbes promotion of IAFT and his recruitment of film and television personnel. With warehouse availability at IAFT’s backdoor, and tax incentives from the State, the plates, silverware, coffee cups and glasses are on the table. The question is whether the film and television industry is willing to dine.
Las Vegas has been a movie-making town since 1960. Frank Sinatra defined cool in “Ocean’s Eleven”. Nicholas Cage, in his incredible Academy award-winning performance in “Leaving Las Vegas” defined human tragedy in 1995.Steven Soderbergh, with “Oceans Thirteen”, re-invented slick in 2007, and Galifianakis rocked the house with comedy in “The Hangover”, 2009.
Television shows in Las Vegas date back to 1962 with something called “Teenbeat Club”. Since then–wildly popular productions like “Married with Children” and “CSI: Crime Investigation” have been set in Las Vegas. Not all scenes in these movies and television series were filmed in Las Vegas but with a school like IAFT, a potential studio lot, an industry experienced promoter, and the State’s support a lot more jobs in the industry may come to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. It seems the perfect spot for the training of a new generation of film and television moguls. IAFT may be a door opener for further Las Vegas industry diversification.
“AFFORDABLE CARE ACT-NEVADA’S PLAN AND HOW IT WORKS”
BY CHET YARBROUGH
(THE STATE OF NEVADA TURNED THE ACA ENROLLMENT WEB SITE OVER TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AFTER THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED)
Mark your calendar. Beginning October 1, 2013, the Federal Government required uninsured residents enroll in one of four health care insurance plans. The following information explains how the Affordable Care Act works, how your premium can be calculated, where to go to get help, and what effect it has on business and the uninsured in Nevada.
Approximately $7,000,000 in grant money has been awarded to private Nevada companies and Nevada government agencies to explain and implement the insurance plan. Much of that $7,000,000 is designed to educate the public on insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. Nevada created an advisory board and insurance exchange website (HealthCare.Gov) to explain the Affordable Care Act to Nevada residents.
Nevada presently has seven potential insurance providers:
Anthem BlueCross BlueShield
Health Plan of Nevada
Sierra Health and Life
As of 9/15/13, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield and Health Plan of Nevada participate in the planned insurance exchange authorized by Governor Sandoval. Aetna indicates on their website that “…Aetna has periodically updated the Aetna Advantage Plans for Individuals, Families and the Self-Employed to include any necessary changes (to comply with the Affordable Care Act). It is important for you to know that your Aetna Advantage Plan will always comply with all of the new federal health care reform legislation.” Without presuming too much, the remaining insurance providers are considering the Affordable Care Act in their business plans.
Preventative care will compel medical service business expansion. Preventative care is included in all four insurance plans mandated by the act. (In retrospect, this feature of the Act may eliminate a consumer’s right to keep their current insurance plan because more health services are required than some existing policies offer.)
Office space for routine check-ups and preventative care will be needed to staff new businesses. Health care facilities are popping up around the valley to meet expected demand. Many entry level positions in the medical field will be needed.
Companies that specialize in health service insurance policies will expand their employment opportunities and facilities to accommodate rising demand. With 600,000 uninsured Nevadans, and an estimated 29 million citizens nationwide, management and administration of health services will be monumental job creators.
As long as the health policy you have is either grandfathered in by the company you work for, or the policy you have meets “Essential Medical Services” of the Affordable Care Act, no fines are mandated for non-compliance with the Act. (Medicare/Medicaid complies with “Essential Medical Services” outlined in the Affordable Care Act.)
NO AHC INSURANCE REQUIRED IF—
You already have insurance from your employer or you have a private policy that complies with the AHC coverage requirements.
You have Medicare/Medicaid
With an estimated 600,000 uninsured Nevada residents, the Affordable Care Act offers a number of immediate short-term and long-term employment opportunities. A part of Federal and State grant dollars to private companies is used to hire and train part-time employees to help Nevada residents enroll in Affordable Care’ health insurance plans. The title of the part-time position is “Enrollment Assistant”. Training and education programs will require more classrooms and teachers to train needed enrollment and medical services personnel.
In addition to part-time “Enrollment Assistant” positions, the Affordable Care Act is expected to increase demand for hospital and medical service staff to meet needs of formerly uninsured residents.
Uninsured Nevada residents will become eligible for preventative medical services in 2014. Routine check-up, vaccination, and pre-natal care are mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
Companies like “Urgent Care Extra” have come to town with the capability of supplementing preventative medical services outlined in the Affordable Care Act. Ty Hanks, the Medical Director, of this new company opened its first clinic in December of 2012. Since then, five “Urgent Care Extra” facilities have opened in the Las Vegas Valley. The latest opening is at 4575 Charleston Blvd., near the intersection of Charleston and Decatur. Dr. Hanks said, “Five more clinics are planned in the next six months.”
“Urgent Care Extra” started seven years ago in Gilbert, Arizona. Hanks and his wife, Jacki, opened a new chapter in their lives by moving from Gilbert to Las Vegas. They expanded “Urgent Care Extra” Arizona to build a chapter of “Urgent Care Extra” in Las Vegas. Dr. Hanks observed, “The Affordable Health Care Act is not the primary focus of their business model but they will be able to expand their service with its implementation”.
The objective of the clinic’s business model is to offer the “in-between” medical service needed by patients that either do not have a primary family physician or need medical help when their primary family physician is not available. Dr. Hanks, a board certified orthopedist, explained, “We want to complement Las Vegas Valley’ physician’ services by developing working relationships in the medical community.” If a patient needs help because of a broken leg at 3:00 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, “Urgent Care Extra” will X-ray the break, identify severity and either cast the injury or refer the patient to an appropriate specialist or primary physician for follow-up. Dr. Hanks said, “Our objective is to be patient centered; with referral to specialists or primary family physician’s (if there is one) after immediate care has been given”.
Dr. Hanks said, “We have 12 part and full-time physicians for the five current ‘Urgent Care Extra’ clinics.” Each facility is staffed by one or two physicians (either on-site or on-call), one or two medical assistants, a medical tech, and one or two front office personnel.
Ms. Hanks said, “We interview ten people for every job opening.” She explained, “Social skill and technical ability are essential qualifications for employment because the clinic’s focus is on patient service.” “Urgent Care Extra” uses IPAD and internet feedback applications to monitor patient perception of clinic services. Ms. Hanks said, “I use patient feedback to improve staff morale and patient relationships.”
The Affordable Health Care Act will significantly increase demand for preventative care. “Urgent Care Extra” is a needed and welcomed service in the Las Vegas Valley.
If you do not have employer-provided, personal, or family medical insurance that meets “Essential Medical Services”’ requirements, the Affordable Care Act requires purchase of health insurance from qualified private insurers or through Silver State Health Insurance Exchange by the end of 2013.
AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE REQUIRES PURCHASE OF FAMILY HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY IF—-
1)You have no insurance for yourself or family. You have three alternatives:
Seek insurance from Nevada’s Silver State Insurance Exchange.
Seek insurance from Nevada Health Co-Op.
Buy a policy from an insurance company that complies with “Essential Medical Services required by the ACA.
2)You refuse to buy medical insurance. There are consequences:
Pay a fine to the Federal Government. Beginning January 1, 2014, most un-insured will have to have health insurance or pay a fine. The fine is $95 per adult and $45.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $285 or 1 percent of family income.
In 2015, fines increase to $325 per adult, $162.50 per child, and a family maximum of $975 or 2 percent of family income.
In 21016, fines increase to $695 per adult, $347.50 per child, and a family maximum of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income.
Call “Silver State Insurance Exchange” at (775) 687-9939 or click www.nevadahealthlink for questions. For enrollment assistance ask for a “Navigator” to help you through the enrollment process. Nevada Health CO-OP (not associated with “Silver State Insurance Exchange) at www.nevadahealthcoop.org (phone number 702-823-COOP) is also making appointments for enrollment in one of the 4 Essential Health Benefit plans required by the Affordable Care Act.
SUMMARY: The Affordable Care Act–signed into law on March 23, 2010. The most significant impact for Nevada begins January 1 of 2014.
Effect on Business’ Group-Health Insurance:
If a business has 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees, employers must provide employee health insurance beginning January 1, 2015.
There are no penalties for 50-employee-companies until 2015. Beginning January 1, 2015, a $2,000 annual penalty will be charged for each worker after the first 30.
All businesses with less than 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees are exempt from the Affordable Care Act until 2016; at which time 1 to 100 employee companies will have to offer health insurance.
Businesses should carefully review hours of work. Even if employees do not work 30+ hours a week, which is the definition of a full-time employee, one equivalent employee is created when total part-time hours worked per week are divided by 120 with the nearest whole number being classified an equivalent full-time employee.
If an employer has not significantly changed their group medical coverage plan since March 23, 2010, the plan in place is grandfathered and the Affordable Care Act does not apply.
All non-grandfathered group health insurance plans are to eliminate annual or life time dollar limits.
If premium costs exceed 9.5 percent of an employee’s annual income, the coverage is considered “unaffordable” and the employer must look at “affordability safe harbors” provided in the Affordable Care Act.
Policies must have no lifetime or annual limits. Individuals cannot be removed from the plan.
Preventative health services are to be included. Coverage to be extended to the age of 26 for children of covered employees.
The insurance provider is to follow a proscribed format to explain provided insurance coverage that has minimum coverage in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.
Starting in 2014, health insurers will only be able to use age, composition of family, geographic area and tobacco as rating factors for insurance rates. (Same for individual policy)
Pre-existing condition exclusions and concomitant pricing of group policies will be prohibited beginning January 1, 2014. (Same for individual policy.)
Essential Health Benefits are a set of health care services that must be covered with no “annual or lifetime dollar limits.” These benefits may still have other limitations, such as a visit limit. (See essential benefits on Family Insurance side-same for group and private policies.)
Starting in 2014—if insurance companies spend less than 80 percent of their premiums on medical costs–they have to pay a rebate to their enrollees. For health plans that are operating in the large group market, if their medical costs are below 85 percent of the premiums, then they have to pay rebates to their enrollees.
There is wide disagreement on loss of jobs as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Concern is raised about companies that will reduce employees or reduce hours of employees to stay below the 50 employee threshold. Part time employee hours are aggregated and divided by 120 to classify employment numbers. (Essential health benefit requirements are the same for ACA’ group health policies as private policies.)
Effect on Family Health Insurance:
If a Nevada resident does not have Medicare or a personal health insurance policy, beginning January 1, 2014, individual insurance policies become available through NevadaHealthLink.com (aka Silver State Health Insurance Exchange).
Beginning January 1, 2014, health insurance cannot be denied to individuals for current or past health issues. Also, no annual or lifetime dollar limits can be applied to insurance coverage.
If an individual adult makes less than $46,022 and does not receive health insurance from an employer, he/she is likely eligible for private policy premium assistance or Medicaid through the NevadaHealthLink.com.
If a family of four makes less than $93,701 and does not receive health insurance from an employer, they are likely eligible for private policy premium assistance or Medicaid through NevadaHealthLink.com.
Subsidized premiums for eligible individuals and families can be calculated by entering family income in a calculator shown at www.nevadahealthlink.com.
Starting in 2014, health insurers will only be able to use age, composition of family, geographic area and tobacco as rating factors for insurance rates.
Beginning January 1, 2014, most people will have to have health insurance or pay a fine. The fine is $95 per adult and $45.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $285 or 1 percent of family income.
In 2015, fines increase to $325 per adult, $162.50 per child, and a family maximum of $975 or 2 percent of family income.
In 2016, fines increase to $695 per adult, $347.50 per child, and a family maximum of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income.
Fines can be waived for several reasons, including financial hardship or religious beliefs.
Use the calculator @ www.nevadahealthlink.com to determine whether your family income is too low to require any payment for an insurance premium. For example, if you enter $16,000 as family income for 2, no premium is charged and no fine for the insurance you sign up for is due.
Tax refunds may be withheld for non-compliance fines.
There are four categories of health plan.
Bronze-covers 60% of medical costs.
Silver-covers 70% of medical costs.
Gold-covers 80% of medical costs
Platinum-covers 90% of medical costs.
Adults under 30 can opt for lower-cost catastrophic plans. (Same for individual family policies.
Pre-existing condition exclusions and concomitant pricing of group policies will be prohibited beginning January 1, 2014.
ESSENTIAL benefits include:
Ambulatory patient services;
Maternity and newborn care;
Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment;
Prescription drugs; Rehabilitative and facilitative services and devices;
Laboratory services; Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and
Pediatric services, including dental and vision care.
Preventive care services must be provided without any cost-sharing to you long as the service is provided by a network provider.
This means that a network provider cannot charge co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance to you or your family.
These services include, but are not limited to: Blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests;
Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies;
Counseling on such topics as smoking cessation, weight loss, eating healthy, treating depression, and reducing alcohol use;
Regular well-baby and well-child visits from birth to age 21;
Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio and meningitis;
Counseling, screening and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies; and
Flu and Pneumonia shots.
NBC News reports that the average premium for one person making $25,000/year, after federal tax credit is applied, will be $145/mo. for a “Silver” plan. For a family of four making $50,000/year, after federal tax credit is applied, will be $282/mo. for a “Silver” plan. One person making $46,000/year or more will receive no tax credit.
On July 29, 2013, Christina Batalias, a ‘Y’ generation alien and twitterverse writer said, “I’d first like to state that I absolutely detest that word, “millennial.” It makes me feel like an alien who has formed inside a jar and subsequently fallen out of a UFO to inhabit this here Earth.”
Millennials have taken center stage in the 21st century. At maturity, the Millennial generation will be near 77,000,000 strong; i.e. the second largest population cohort in American history (Baby Boomers are near 79,000,000). Born between 1979 and 1994 (date range varies), Millennials are the most praised, nomadic, and networked generation in history. Because of size–the “Y” generation means a great deal to the future of America. The “Y” generation will be leading America in the 21st century.
The “Greatest Generation” is largely retired. “Baby Boomers” are nearing retirement and the “X” generation is too small to fill soon-to-be vacated business, government, and eleemosynary jobs. Today’s leaders, coming from the “Greatest Generation”, Baby Boomers, and the “X Generation” need to understand, embrace, and develop the “Y” generation. Millennials are tomorrows’ primary work force; some of which will become captains of industry, mavens of government, and/or leaders of non-profit organizations.
Parenthood is considered more important than marriage to Millennials by a margin of 22%. Millennials that marry look at marriage as a partnership that continues to offer career opportunities for each parent with an equal sharing of family and household responsibilities.
The Millennial generation is more ethnically diverse than previous cohorts with a 19% Hispanic population. One half of the Millennial population is of voting age; 19% have college degrees. Women see more value in a college education than men. By 2009, female enrollment in college outpaced men by 6%, 44% versus 38%. There are 8% more women college graduates than male graduates in 2010.
The Pew Research Center profiles Millennials as confident, connected, open to change, liberal, and upbeat. In spite of “Y” generation’ unemployment estimates of 10% to 16.2%, Millennials remain optimistic about their future. Millennials are closer to their parents than previous generations and are likely to be in touch (8 out of 10) with parents on a daily basis. In a book titled “Y-Size Your Business”, Jason Dorsey emphasizes the importance of parents to Millennials and suggests that employer contact with parents can be helpful in understanding and motivating Millennial employees.
Dorsey, a “Y” generation alumni himself, argues that Millennials, are highly motivated to work. Judging from some comments from today’s leaders and managers, there is disagreement. Dorsey believes the disagreement comes from lack of communication and understanding; i.e. a failure of organization managers to listen to, or understand, what motivates Millennial employees.
Dorsey notes that Millennials have lived a life of positive reinforcement from parents, teachers, etc. that has engendered a sense of entitlement. Millennials earned a reputation as the “me” generation that requires more frequent management feedback on performance than is presently practiced in most American organizations. Rather than quarterly or annual reviews of performance, Dorsey suggests weekly or monthly reviews; not lengthy written, file stuffing exercises, but brief ten minute interviews that may include constructive criticism and/or honest praise when warranted.
Questions rise about “Work to Live” vs. “Live to Work” when it comes to the “Y” generation. Without over-generalizing, Dorsey infers Millennials opt for a “Work to Live” life. To a Millennial, job security is a fiction, careers are ephemeral, and life balance is overrated.
Dorsey has many suggestions about what can be done to motivate and retain “Y” generation employees. He creates a sense of urgency by noting that Millennials are the future of the American way of life. Dorsey’s fundamental observation is that managers need to understand what motivates their employees and adapt their organizations to accommodate future needs in a way that continues to achieve organizational objectives. Human nature has not changed; i.e. it is simply valued by different degrees of desire for money, power, and prestige. Nothing Dorsey recommends violates standard management practices suggested by great teachers and consultants like Peter Drucker and William Edwards Demming.
Dorsey’s solution is to bridge the gap between focus on outcome and process by including process in discussion about outcome. Working weekends, longer hours, skipping vacations, etc. are de-motivators for most employees but particularly for Millennials that enter the work force as a generation that has been financially supported through school and only lately become aware of work requirements in a capitalist society. Because of Millennials’ life experience, Dorsey suggests that Matures (the “Greatest Generation), Boomer, and ”X” generation managers become more flexible with time at work by focusing on outcomes rather than process.
This refocus on outcomes can benefit all employees in an organization. It is not to suggest work times can be eliminated but that work times may be a considered management subject when determining corporate objectives. To Millennials, time is money, one of life’s three basic motivations. Viewed in that light, time-off when outcomes are satisfied, are reward for jobs well done.
An advantage of “outcome” focus is that Millennials are not impeded by pre-conceived notions of what worked in the past. Also, outcome becomes subject to re-evaluation. In other words, the question becomes–is traditional outcome still in the best interest of the organization or is it time to re-think outcomes?
According to Pew’s research, Millennials prefer learning by doing. Life experience suggests “doing” is a better teacher than following a proscribed procedure. “Doing” has the added benefit of possible discovery of improved process. The organizational ramification is that organization leaders may consider assigning tasks to “Y” generation employees without formal rules of process. The success of that idea requires current managers of Millennials to: (1) clearly define desired outcomes, (2) frequently review performance, and (3) organizationally reward good performance, commensurate with quantifiable achievement.
For the first time in history, four different generations exist in some organizations. The three earlier generations have come to a rough consensus on what it takes to lead and manage organizations. But, Millennials, though optimistic about the future, are not sure current leadership and management have the right ideas about what is needed to lead and manage the future.
Millennials are gamers. Pew notes that Millennials spend “…thousands of hours playing electronic, computer and video games.” Games offer thrills, competition, positive reinforcement, and fun that make most work environments look like a drag. Some companies like Zappos have created a work place that emulates the characteristics of games with competition for sales, immediate positive reinforcement for high performance, and a work environment that eschews formality and endorses fun. This is not to suggest organizations need to become game rooms but that attention should be paid to outcomes that are competition driven with positive commendation for achievement, and/or financial reward, in a more relaxed and enjoyable work environment.
Dorsey explains Millennials are not tech savvy but tech dependent. They are unlikely to know how technology works but they have grown up with what technology can do. Pew describes Millennials as digital natives; i.e. they “…adapt faster to computer and internet services because they have always had them.” This is not to suggest that technology replaces Millennial’ need for social contact; in fact, it amplifies desire for social contact because computers do not offer the human feedback Millennials are accustomed to received.
Pew notes that Millennials are “…prolific communicators”; i.e. they use blogs, Facebook and other social media websites to reveal themselves and communicate to friends and family all over the world. They use instant messaging, cell phones, and Skype to stay in touch. Networking is second nature. Consensus building is a natural extension of Millennials’ ability to manage 21st century organizations. The value to organizations is that consensus builds productivity.
Another interesting insight from the Pew’ research is that Millennials seek flexibility and convenience in life and work. Dorsey notes that in job interviews, “Y” generation job-seekers are as intent on interviewing employers as in being interviewed. Dorsey explains that Millennials are looking for jobs that fit their life style.
A brief interview of three interns that work at the “Las Vegas Review Journal” reinforces much of what Pew’s research and Dorsey’s book reveal. Erin Peretti is a junior at Penn State. Her family lives here in Las Vegas. She said, “I want to work for a magazine or publication that allows me to creatively pursue interesting subjects.” Matt Smith, a 3rd year student at UNLV, is open to working anywhere in the world that offers a good financial opportunity and interesting life experience. Sara Eggers, a senior at BYU, would like to stay in the Southwest and is looking for work in a management environment in which she would feel comfortable.
Time is money to both employer and employee. With an outcome focus, when tasks are assigned to a Millennial, he/she works as many hours as is required to achieve desired outcomes. When a task is accomplished, recognition with time-off can be as important as a cash bonus. The point is that management flexibility in compensation makes jobs more fun to a Millennial employee. It is not that money is not a primary motivator for all employees but money becomes a fungible commodity.
Pew notes that a merit system of recognition is more important than seniority to Millennials. One suspects that is true for any beginning employee but might be a discountable quality as Millennials become more senior in their organizations.
Pew suggests that Millennials excel at multitasking; i.e. being on the phone, listening to music, and downloading information on a computer while working on an assigned task. This is acknowledging “Y” generation’s dependence on technology as much as recognizing any unique ability. As in all stimulating environments, there is a risk of distraction that can negatively impact outcome. Because Millennials are outcome oriented, managers have common ground to discuss employee performance issues related to distraction. If Pew’s so called multitasking skill is interfering with acceptable outcome, there is common ground for performance discussion with a Millennial employee. Objective performance geometrics (measurement) are grounds for frequent approval and/or constructive criticism of Millennial employees.
Human beings, from the beginning of recorded history, have been motivated by three things. One is wealth, defined by money or possessions; two is power, defined by control of lives; and three is prestige, defined by social standing. The only difference is in the weight each is given by a particular generation.
The 21st century is the Millennial’s age-of-opportunity. Organizations that develop, motivate, and retain the best of this new generation will be successful; organizations that do not will struggle.
SOURCE MATERIAL FOR “IN SEARCH OF THE ‘Y’ GENERATION”
1. PewResearch, “Social & Demographic Trends”, February 24, 2010.
2. “The 2013 Millennial Impact Report” by Achieve Organization, Primarily oriented to non-profit organizations.
3. “Millennials Go To College” (2003) by Neil Howe and William Strauss.
4. “Millennial Behaviors & Demographics” by Richard Sweeney, University Librarian, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102-1982 973-596-3208,firstname.lastname@example.org,Revised December 22, 2006
5. Y-Size Your Business by Jason Ryan Dorsey, Published 11/16/09.
6. Managing the Millennials by Chip Espinoza, Mick Ukleja, Craig Rusch, Published 2/22/10.
7. “The Millennial Generation”, March 2013, Author: Pat Breman
8. The Practice of Management-1954, The Effective Executive-1967 by Peter Drucker
9. Out of the Crises-1982 by W. Edwards Deming
Bally Technologies has been at the forefront of casino gaming since its beginning in 1932. Bally Technologies offers a wide range of technology and entertainment solutions to casinos around the globe. Services to the casino industry by Bally Technologies include gaming machines, mobile applications, iGaming platforms, casino-management systems, and player-marketing solutions. More importantly, they are at the forefront of online gambling as it gains approval in the United States. Bally Technologies is headquartered here, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
John Connelly, Vice President of Business Development, said, “Bally Technologies is an international organization with offices around the world; we have offices in Amsterdam, Rome, and London, to name a few”. Bally Technologies has more than 1,000 employees in Nevada.
In February of this year, Nevada became the first State to approve online gambling. Connelly said, “In the last two years, because of pending national approval of online gambling, Bally Technologies has increased Las Vegas employment by more than 200 people.” Connelly explained, “Additional state regulatory approvals of online gambling and improving mobile applications will increase the size of our online gaming division, which we call Bally Interactive.” He said, “Two hundred hires may increase to 1500, depending on market growth.”
Connelly said, “Bally Technologies offers economies of scale to both large and small customers that are processing the complex activities of the gaming industry.” Connelly explained, “We have been serving the casino industry for more than eight decades.” With Bally Technologies early entry and experience in electronic gaming, the advent of the internet became a superhighway for expansion of the company’s business.
Connelly noted, “Job searches for Bally Technologies are often worldwide because of highly specialized needs of the company”. But, Connelly said, “We also hire employees straight from college and have on-the-job training and continuing education programs to meet present and future needs of the company.” He said, “Bally Technologies extends services to casinos and online gaming companies around the world.” Bally Technologies provides back-office services to 90 percent of Atlantic City casinos. They offer contract services to mega-casinos like Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.
Taking a peek at Bally Technologies’ website (http://ballytech.com/careers/) there are career openings for customer service, information technology, human resources, software development, project management, and engineering.
When asked about the effect of online gambling on casino table games, Connelly said, “Online gambling is another way of reaching the customer and its growth will complement the Casino customer base.” He added, “Online poker will educate customers about the joy of the game.”
American Casino & Entertainment Properties (ACEP) is a locally based company that owns the Stratosphere and Arizona Charlie’s casinos in Las Vegas. They also own and operate the Aquarius Casino Resort (formerly the Flamingo) in Laughlin, Nevada.
Alec Driscoll is the Director of Gaming Development for ACEP. Driscoll explained, “ACEP has been gearing up for a rollout of online gambling for the last two years.” He said, “ACEP researched the market, particularly in Europe where online gambling is legal, to prepare for a launch of our own online gambling website in the United States, www.acePLAY.com.”
AcePLAYpoker.com rolled out in February of this year. “It is presently a no-money website but pending regulatory approval, we plan to become a pay-for-play online gambling site,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll explained, “The website launch is a great promotional tool for their brick and mortar casinos.” One can access acePLAYpoker.com directly or through ACEP’s casino website addresses. The launch offers an educational experience for players wanting to know more about casino entertainment and gambling. Driscoll said, “Right now, our focus is on Nevada, but we have plans to expand our online poker site as more States approve online gambling.”
Driscoll explained, “Online gambling has been around for a long time but is, just now, beginning to be legalized in the United States.” Prior to legalization in Nevada, online gaming was a “gray market” because its base of operations was outside the United States.
Driscoll said, “ACEP’s entry to online gaming has required a great deal of research, re-education of employees, and hiring of new employees to serve what is expected to be a significant marketing opportunity.” When asked about the steps in the process of opening an online site, Driscoll said, “We talked to operators and employees in other countries and contacted local companies like Bally Technologies to see what they could offer that fit ACEP’s corporate objectives.”
ACEP chose to create a separate company that would offer online gaming, initially as a marketing tool for their brick and mortar casinos. The longer term objective is to become a licensed gambling website. Driscoll said, “ACEP decided to use Bally Technologies’ gaming-platform to initiate ACEP’s entry into the online market.” Driscoll explained, “No date-certain has been set for launching their real-money online gambling site but it is a high priority for the company.” He added, “In the meantime, acePLAYpoker.com has been a great marketing tool.”
Current job openings for ACEP’s online gaming and properties can be found at www.ACEPcareers.com.
Online gaming dates back to 1969. The success of online gaming is partly limited by technology and significantly influenced by government regulation.
The upper limits of technology have been pushed higher with programming platforms that connect people to play games. Beginning with William Higinbotham in 1958 with “Tennis for Two”, gaming on a monitor (actually an oscilloscope screen) became a local opportunity. By 1980, local game-player’ opportunities morphed into international game-player’ connections; video games became valuable copywriter-secured assets; e.g. Atari’s “Asteroids” and “Lunar Lander”.
With the advent of ARPANET, linking the University of California to the Stanford Research Institute in 1969, the potential for gaming became national. In 1973, with the creation of a common computer language, local networks combined to create the internet. With advent of the internet, a worldwide opportunity became possible for online gaming. In the background of this new environment, online gambling is introduced to the online entertainment world.
In 1994, Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean passed the Free Trade & Processing Act that provided for online licensing of casinos. Internet gambling sites have increased from 15 in 1996 to 200 in 1997 (Wikipedia quote). A global industry consulting company, Frost & Sullivan, reports that online gambling revenues exceeded $830 million in 1998.
Christiansen Capital Advisors (an LLC that focuses on gaming and wagering) reportedly said that 23,000,000 people participated in some form of online gambling in 2005 on an estimated 2,000 websites. A November 2012 report by “Global Casinos & Online Gambling” (http://www.ibisworld.com/) estimates 2012 revenue from casino and online gambling is nearly $127 billion. An estimate from “intellogiX” (http://www.intellogix.com/) projects that $17-19 billion of that $127 billion will be from online gambling.
The United States is a late-comer to online gambling with its first online site beginning in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first licensed online gambling site in the United States was launched by Fertitta Interactive LLC. Fertitta Interactive was founded in 2010 but a real-money online poker site had to wait until December 2011 for Nevada’s approval of online gambling. At 9:00 am Pacific Time, April 30, 2013, Ultimate Poker.com was launched. The Golden Nugget and Station Casinos became their exclusive clients. It has been a long march and because Fertitta Interactive is first to capitalize on a new market opportunity, they are the pioneers of real-money, American online poker. An online source of information about what is happening in the industry is http://www.ultimategaming.com/ultimate-gaming-news/.
Fertittta Interactive is blazing its own trail in this growing form of American entertainment. In 2011, when Fertitta Interactive purchased the Oakland, California based company, Cyber/Arts Licensing LLC, they became a self-sufficient, vertically integrated online gambling enterprise. Other Las Vegas based casino owners have taken a different road.
ACEP, Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation, and MGM decide to partner with outside companies that have developed proprietary online gambling platforms. As noted earlier, ACEP partners with Global Technologies. Caesar’s chooses 888 Holdings PLC, a Gibraltar-based company that works with online United Kingdom’ casinos; and MGM announces plans to work with Bwin, the largest publically traded online gambling company in the world. Both 888 and Bwin incorporated in Gibraltar in 1997. (Gibraltar is a peninsula at the entry to the Mediterranean, off the south coast of Spain.) Both are publicly held companies. Bwin, in terms of employment, is the biggest with an estimated 3,000 world-wide employees.
Nevadans are at the beginning of a new era of online gaming. Station Casinos, with its continued appeal to local resident interest in games of skill and chance, chooses to focus on creating a local brand of online poker with http://www.ultimategaming.com/ . ACEP, Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation, and MGM are partnering with international gaming companies to pursue world wide appeal. This is not to say Station Casinos will not tap the world-wide market but their beginning points are different.
A common thread in casino’ online gaming websites (both pay-to-play and no-money gaming sites) is public introduction to respective casino entertainment networks. Everything from education in the art of gambling, to player benefits, to pictures and explanations of casino amenities will be advertised on online sites. Online gambling sites may offer many of the same players’ benefits that casino visitors are eligible for when they play at the casino.
In 1988, UNLV created the Center for Gaming Research. David Schwartz is the Gaming Research Center’s highly accessible Director. He is a great source of information about the gaming industry. The Center has a state-of-the-art library on gaming. Schwartz said, “Online gambling is a job creator that compliments the casino industry”. In addition to software programmers and service providers of online gambling, ancillary businesses like geo-location companies will grow.
Schwartz noted, “With New Jersey’s and Delaware’s approval, the history of online gambling is still being written.” Swartz explained, “New Jersey and Delaware approval of online gambling includes other casino games while Nevada’s approval is for online poker only.” Every state may have a different model for online gambling approval.
Schwartz said, “Online gambling will increase casino’ gaming revenues and state’ tax collections.” It is too soon to know how big the increase will be.
Long term investors like Global Technologies may have a jump on the online gaming market but relative newcomers like Fertitta Interactive, 888, and Bwin are focused competitors that are keen to be the best. To Nevadans, entrepreneurs that create jobs are just what the economy needs.
(A Version of this Article is Posted in the “Las Vegas Review Journal” 5/23/13)