Las Vegas, renowned for its vibrant entertainment industry, is experiencing a technological transformation that could reshape its workforce. The prevalence of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is steadily replacing human jobs across various sectors in the city.

Check-in kiosks have supplanted hotel front desk staff, and text-bots now provide restaurant recommendations instead of concierges. Restaurants employ robots for serving food, while machines can be found bartending, pouring drinks with precision. This automation trend is a long-standing conversation in Las Vegas, with studies indicating that between 38% to 65% of jobs in the city could be automated by 2035.

As AI adoption rises, Las Vegas’ economy, largely reliant on tourism and hospitality, faces an inflection point. Companies are increasingly turning to technology to reduce labor costs. John Restrepo, Principal at RCG Economics in Las Vegas, highlights that resorts and businesses within the city seek opportunities to integrate AI where it does not affect productivity, profits, or the customer experience.

Restrepo emphasizes the need for economic diversification to make Las Vegas less dependent on tourism and hospitality. Shifting to highly skilled occupations less susceptible to AI replacement could provide greater balance and resilience.

Las Vegas unions, closely monitoring these changes, are actively negotiating for job protections in the face of AI. The Culinary Union, the largest union in Nevada, representing 60,000 service and hospitality workers, is working towards a new contract that includes safeguards against AI-induced job losses. This includes advocating for advanced notifications and training on new technology introduced in the workplace.

The union is prepared to make AI a critical issue in contract negotiations and, if necessary, consider strikes to protect workers from technological displacement.

However, some service workers believe that AI cannot entirely replace the human touch. For instance, Sabrina Bergman at the Tipsy Robot bar inside Planet Hollywood assists a robot bartender and asserts that machines cannot replicate the personal interaction guests seek. Workers like Holly Lang, a cocktail waitress at the MGM Grand, believe that contracts will safeguard their jobs despite concerns about technology.

AI’s impact is not limited to service jobs; it extends to white-collar positions such as accounting and data entry. While AI can enhance productivity in some roles, others may be eliminated altogether. Nevertheless, AI is poised to create entirely new job categories that do not currently exist.

Las Vegas city officials are preparing workers for this shift, hosting events like the Chamber of Commerce’s panel on AI in August. Business owners like Tony Yee, who owns a small moving company, recognize the importance of embracing AI for business growth and efficiency, echoing the sentiment that being left behind is not an option in this technological revolution.

By Impact Lab