LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: More Las Vegas companies are paying their workers with plastic

It’s payday: Will that be paper or plastic?

More companies in Las Vegas are offering their employees the option of being paid with plastic instead of traditional direct deposit or paper checks. Those payroll debit cards are automatically loaded with money each pay period.

Employees of Starbucks, Wendy’s and Chipotle can opt for payroll debit cards. The cards also are available to workers at Darden restaurants and MGM Resorts International.

“There are three ways our employees can be paid,” said Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for Orlando, Fla.-based Darden. “They can receive a paper check, deposit to a payroll card or direct deposit.”

Jeffers said 48 percent of the company’s 200,000 employees use payroll cards, while 50 percent have direct deposit with their bank and 2 percent receive a paper check. Darden, which operates Yard House, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and The Capital Grille, employs some 1,300 workers at 13 restaurants in Las Vegas.

“Yes, there’s a cost savings for the company,” Jeffers said. “But not everyone has a bank account. There are a lot of unbanked people in the U.S. There are also folks that choose to access their money differently.”

In 2012, employers loaded more than $34.1 billion in wages onto 4.6 million payroll cards, and that number is expected to grow to 7.1 million cards and $51.5 billion next year, according to Aite Group, a business-research firm.

Jeffers said the use of payroll debit cards at Darden was “generational.”

“A majority of our employees are millennials,” Jeffers said. The Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y, have birth dates from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

MGM Resorts began offering payroll debit cards in 2005. Today, 5 percent of the company’s 62,000 employees use them, while 89 percent use direct deposit and 6 percent receive a paper check.

“The typical reason we get for employees choosing payroll cards is they want to supplement their children who are in college,” said Diane Gonzales, vice president of Finance Share Service Center at MGM Resorts. “They want to monitor their spending.”

Gonzales said other employees use the cards to send money home, while others are simply not eligible for bank accounts but want the convenience of direct deposit.

She said payroll cards are simply an option and are not mandatory.

The use of these cards makes sense as businesses move away from paper paychecks.

Jeffers said with paper checks the company had to mail them to each restaurant “safely and securely,” and employees would have to come in every Friday to pick up their paychecks even if it was an off day.

“Now their paycheck hits the card by 6 a.m. on Friday,” Jeffers said. “It frees up our managers, who used to have two hours of administrative payroll work a week.”

The debit cards can make purchases at a point of sale and be used at ATMs to withdraw funds loaded on them. Some payroll debit card companies even offer check writing services.

At the Association of Financial Planner’s Annual Conference on Tuesday, Skylight Financial, Global Cash Card, Comdata, and Brinks shared convention space with Wells Fargo, Barclay’s and other traditional financial institutions. Brinks, better known for its armored trucks, released Brinks Money in January, its own branded Master Card.

The card offers a number of free services, including enrollment and initial pay card, no monthly fee for current employees, over-the-counter cash withdrawals at member banks, and cash back at retailers.

“We make our money through interchange fees,” said Jonathan Ginsberg, an account executive with Brinks Money. “Brinks gets a very small part of each interchange fee from every transaction.” Interchange fees describes a fee paid between banks for the acceptance of card-based transactions.

The Brinks payroll card is also FDIC insured. Ginsberg said the card is a secure alternative for employees who have “difficulty getting a bank account.”

Ginsberg said the Brinks card isn’t available yet in Las Vegas, but will be next year as the company continues moving into the payroll solutions business.

Global Cash Card doesn’t charge the employee or employer. It also generates revenue by receiving a portion of the interchange fees. Global Cash also offers an electronic checkbook and free bill pay.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: English Premier League debut draws big business for British pubs

Updated August 21, 2013 – 9:32am

From Arsenal’s disappointing 3-1 loss to Aston Villa, to Manchester United’s dominant 4-1 win over Swansea City, soccer fans last weekend enjoyed the games with pints of beer, Full Monty’s or Scotch eggs.

Soccer bars in Las Vegas have benefited for years from tourists and locals turning out, but on opening day, the Crown & Anchor pub welcomed about 100 customers to celebrate the launch of the 2014 Premiership season.

“It was an OK turnout for the first week of games,” said Beth Steele, a bartender with Crown & Anchor. “I expect the crowds to get even bigger as the season progresses.”

Steele said the difference between fans of the Premier League and fans of the National Football League is that soccer fans follow the game a little more closely and like to “talk smack” but still respect one another after the game.

“Soccer fans hug and sing. NFL fans are not quite the same singers,” she said.

Crown & Anchor, on East Tropicana at Maryland Parkway, is one of the top soccer bars in Las Vegas, and fans have made it their headquarters since 1995.

To be among the top soccer bars requires a few key ingredients, including more than 30 beers on tap and an extensive menu of British favorites. But the most important is the fans who show up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday .

Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were among the most popular teams last weekend, and for about 40 weeks, fans will make the weekly pilgrimage to the pub .

“I’ve been an Arsenal fan for 10 years,” said Roxanne Provence, who turned up Saturday wearing her Thomas Vermaelen jersey. “I liked the way they played. I started watching it and found Arsenal.”

Provence got hooked on the game at the Globe in Chicago but found Crown & Anchor online when she moved to Las Vegas a few weeks ago. She doesn’t mind the time change, because soccer to her is about a “sense of community.”

Jesmond Parke found Crown & Anchor online while planning a trip to Las Vegas.

“Every time I go away, I have to find a place to watch the game,” said Parke, a Toronto resident and Manchester United fan. “It’s nice to be around people who know the game and can have a conversation about the game.”

Parke said it’s better than watching the game in a hotel room.

With the crowd Saturday came a steady stream of pints of beer, as well as dozens of orders of chip butty, Scotch egg, and Full Monty’s, which at $9.95 is one of the most popular items at Crown & Anchor.

The Full Monty is a traditional English breakfast with two eggs, English bacon, a banger, grilled tomato, English Heinz baked beans and toast. A chip butty is a large portion of French fries, or chips, on a buttered roll.

A $4.95 Scotch egg, a hard-boiled egg wrapped in spiced sausage, and a $5.50 sausage roll, or spiced sausage wrapped in a crust, are also popular.

Steele said that how well the pub does can be determined by what teams are playing. On Saturday, the crowd doubled when Manchester United kicked off against Swansea City, she said.

Watching a Premier League game at home or in a Las Vegas sports book isn’t the same for most soccer fans.

“It’s not about getting up at 5 a.m.,” said Sunny Patria, an Everton fan from Victoria, British Columbia. “It’s about passion and following your club.”

Eric Schauwecker urged Las Vegans to pick a Premier League team and get into the world’s most popular sport.

“Find a team or even a player you can relate to. For me it was Steven Gerrard of Liverpool. I always wanted to play soccer like Steven Gerrard.”

Schauwecker cautioned new soccer fans that once you find your club, “you don’t change teams.” He said it’s not like rooting for the Dallas Cowboys for half a season, and then switching your allegiance to the San Diego Chargers.

“In the Premier League, it is about staying up and surviving,” he said.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@review journal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

KNPR – Wynn Resorts Wins Massachusetts Gaming License

Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd, in Las Vegas will oversee his company’s plans for a new casino in Everett, Mass.
Credit Wynn Resorts

Updated: Sept. 16, 2:30 p.m.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved Wynn Resorts proposal to build a $1.6 billion resort-casino in Everett, a city just north of Boston.

The commission voted 3-to-1 Tuesday to award the license to the Las Vegas-gaming company. Wynn Resorts already operates Wynn Las Vegas and Encore on the Strip, Wynn Macau, and is building a $4 billion resort on the Cotai Strip in Macau.

“We’d like to thank the commission for the thoughtful and exhaustive energy that they have put forward into the process and we look forward to successfully navigating the program as it goes forward,” Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, said in a statement.

Wynn said he believed that a great deal of the resistance that his company experienced in some surrounding communities was “directly related to the fact that this was a competition.”

In his statement, Wynn specifically mentioned Boston as a community resistant to the company’s plans to redevelop 30-acres along the Mystic River.

“We expect that now that a decision has been made, everybody will find it much easier to relate to one another, get on with the job of creating jobs and a better life for the citizens of Everett and surrounding communities in the greater Boston area.”

Elaine Driscoll, director of communications for the MGC, said Wynn Resorts “must now accept a list of conditions by tomorrow (morning) and (the) commission will then take a final vote.”

Wynn Resorts beat out Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun for the license. Mohegan Sun had proposed to build a $1.1 billion casino in Revere, at the Suffolk Downs racetrack. The city of Revere is also located just north of Boston.

Commissioners Gayle Cameron, Enrique Zuniga, and Bruce Stebbins voted for the proposal. Commissioner James F. McHugh, who chaired the hearing, was the lone dissenter, the Boston Globe reported. Commission chairman Stephen Crosby had recused himself due to the possibility of conflicts of interest — he was seen attending an event at Suffolk Downs racetrack, which has a partnership with Mohegan Sun .

The commission moved forward with approving the project, despite a ballot measure in November that would repeal the state’s gaming law. In 2011, Massachusetts voters approved a law that authorized three casinos and a slot machine parlor in the state.