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Detroit Casinos to Stop Paying Workers as Coronavirus Rages On

Thousands of workers at Detroit’s three casinos will have their pay stopped as the properties have extended their shutdown amid the raging coronavirus pandemic.

MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino, and MotorCity Casino will now remain closed until at least April 13.

The three gambling venues, all located in downtown Detroit, promised to pay their workers throughout the original shutdown period, which expires tomorrow, March 31.

However, the rapid spread of the dangerous and highly contagious virus across the US has forced the properties to extend the shutdown window through at least mid-April. The casinos informed their workers that they will cease pay beyond March 31, but said they would extend benefits through June 30.

MGM Grand Detroit is owned by Las Vegas casino powerhouse MGM Resorts International, Greektown is owned by major regional operator Penn National Gaming, and MotorCity is owned by the wealthy Ilitch family.

The three properties are Michigan’s only commercial casinos. There are also 23 tribal casinos that operate on the territory of the state. They all closed temporarily after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced earlier this month a ban on large gatherings, among other measures aiming to curb the spread of Covid-19 across the state and the rest of the country.

Detroit’s three casinos all opened retail sportsbooks just days before their shutdown. The launch of the facilities marked Michigan’s official entry into the US sports betting frenzy after Gov. Whitmer authorized the practice late last year.

A Difficult Decision

MGM Resorts International began companywide furloughs and workforce reductions from mid-March, citing the reduced demand due to the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. All of the company’s casino resorts across the US are now closed in the face of the unfolding health emergency.

In a letter to employees informing them about the looming furloughs and layoffs, MGM President Bill Hornbukle said that “these decisions are never made lightly and that they “deeply regret the hardships” they will place on affected individuals and their families.

Penn National said this past Friday that it would place 26,000 workers on furlough throughout the coronavirus crisis and until its properties reopen. Aside from Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit, the company runs 40 other properties in 19 states, all of them closed.

Of its extended closure, MotorCity Casino said that the health and safety of its employees is their top priority and that they are hopeful “this temporary closure will have a positive impact on stemming the tide of Covid-19.”

Penn National said Friday that it has set up an emergency relief fund, which now has more than $1.2 million, to help affected workers and local relief organizations.

At MGM Grand Detroit, MGM has, too, set up an emergency relief fund and is understood to be in talks with other companies, including Amazon, to provide employees affected by the workforce cuts with temporary employment.

More than 140,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US, making it the country with the most confirmed cases. The dangerous infection has killed nearly 2,500 people since the first US case was reported.

Source: Detroit casino workers’ pay stops Wednesday; benefits run through June 30

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Caesars Laid Off 3,200 Casino Workers ahead of Covid-19 Closures

Caesars Entertainment Corp. informed the Nevada employment department that it would lay off thousands of casino workers in the face of the coronavirus crisis just days before it was forced to close its properties in the state, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

In a letter to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation dated March 14, the casino giant said that it would cut its workforce by 3,200 employees due to uncertainties and disruptions stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caesars also noted that the job cuts would take place on March 15. The letter, obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal, said that given the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, “we are unable to make a determination as to whether the layoff will be temporary or permanent.”

A day after the letter was posted, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued an order that all non-essential businesses across the state close for a 30-day period to help curb the spread of the highly contagious virus that has gripped the world.

Caesars’ Letter Violates Law

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 requires employers to provide the state with notice at least 60 days in advance. However, Caesars said in its letter that the rapid spread of Covid-19 triggered financial fallout that required urgent measures.

The Las Vegas casino company is one of many in the sector to be dismissing thousands of employees in response to the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the gaming, hospitality, and travel industries.

On Friday, major regional casino operator Penn National Gaming said that it would place 26,000 employees on furlough for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

The recent Caesars workforce cut affected employees at its flagship property Caesars Palace as well as at Planet Hollywood, Harrah’s, Bally’s, The Cromwell Hotel, The LINQ, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Paris, and Flamingo, among others.

In its letter to Nevada’s employment department, the company said that the layoff was the result “of an unforseeable circumstance.”

Coronavirus Could Derail Mega-Merger

Caesars is in the middle of a $17.3 billion tie-up with Reno-based fellow casino operator Eldorado Resorts. The deal was anticipated to close by late March or early April, but this timeframe can no longer be pursued due to the disruptions created by the coronavirus outbreak.

Caesars and Eldorado need to secure regulatory clearance in all states where they run properties. Regulators in some of those have already blessed the mega-deal, but others have put it on the back burner to focus on more pressing issues.

Nevada’s gaming watchdog is not likely to vote on the merger until at least mid-April, while its New Jersey counterpart can approve it as early as May when its next meeting is scheduled to take place.

Eldorado has now started paying Caesars around $2.3 million in ticking fees because the deal failed to close by March 25, or around nine months after it was announced.

Earlier this month, the CEO of the Reno-based casino operator seemed enthusiastic about its combination with Caesars. However, that enthusiasm can eventually get thinner if Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc in the casino world.

And if Eldorado decides to back off from the deal, it will have to pay a break-up fee of $800-plus-million which, according to experts, could force the company into bankruptcy.

Source: Four days before closing casinos, Caesars gave notice that 3,200 workers would be cut

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Atlantic City Casinos Furlough Workers in Face of Coronavirus Closure

Almost all of Atlantic City’s nine casinos have furloughed their workers as the economic fallout from the dangerous coronavirus continues to reverberate across the United States and the rest of the world.

Most of the gambling venues located along Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk have sent temporary layoff notices to their staff members after their closure earlier this month. The move enables nearly 16,000 casino workers to file for unemployment benefits as uncertainty when the casinos will be able to resume operations grows.

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the indefinite closure of Atlantic City’s nine casinos on March 16 in response to the global coronavirus crisis. After the Governor issued his order the gambling venues all offered their employees two weeks’ worth of compensation and health benefit extensions.

It emerged that Tropicana Atlantic City’s owner, Eldorado Resorts, offered two more weeks. However, casinos said they were forced to furlough staff due to the uncertainty relating to their eventual reopening.

Mass Casino Layoffs

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City sent a memo to its workers on Wednesday to inform them about the furloughs. The gambling venue said that it would allow eligible staff members to use their accumulated paid time off as well as an additional two weeks of borrowed PTO. This means that some of the casino’s workers will be covered through the greater part of April and will not have to file for unemployment.

Commenting on the unfolding situation, Hard Rock AC President Joe Lupo said that they are committed to our team members during these unprecedented times, ensuring that our communication has been open and direct.”

Mr. Lupo went on that furloughed employees that apply for unemployment will be able to take advantage of new stimulus packages until the property reopens.

Ocean Casino Resort informed its workers about the layoffs on Thursday. CEO Terry Glebocki said that they are “looking forward to the day when Ocean Casino Resort can reopen and welcome back our team members and guests.”

In a memo to its staff members, Ocean said that the layoffs were temporary and that they plan to reinstate the employment of those placed on furlough “as soon as we have the business needs and are permitted to operate.”

Workers at Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s properties – Bally’s, Caesars, and Harrah’s – were informed of the furloughs on Thursday. Resorts Casino Hotel distributed temporary layoff notices this past Tuesday. The owner of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, MGM Resorts International, sent companywide notices on March 17.

Boardwalk Remains Open Despite Casino Closures

While all of Atlantic City’s casinos went dark in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, the resort city’s legendary Boardwalk has remained open so people can spend some time outside, exercise, and get some fresh air while practicing social distancing.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said Thursday that he would keep the Boardwalk open for now, but noted that if he continues to “get the information […] of people gathering on the Boardwalk and not practicing social distancing, as quick as I made the decision to keep it open, I will close it without hesitation.”

Source: Mass layoffs begin at Atlantic City casinos

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Golden Nugget Owner Lays Off 40,000 Workers amid Covid-19 Crisis

Billionaire businessman Tilman Fertitta has furloughed around 40,000 workers at his chains of casinos and restaurants in the wake of widespread temporary closures of non-essential businesses across the US in response to the global Covid-19 crisis.

Mr. Fertitta’s business assets include the Golden Nugget chain of casinos and hundreds of dining outlets operating under the Landry’s Inc. umbrella. The businessman said that he had to temporarily lay off staff to reduce the financial impact of government-invoked measures aiming to arrest the spread of the dangerous coronavirus.

The Texas-born billionaire has also called on authorities to allow dining and hospitality facilities to reopen at limited capacity in several weeks from now to avoid what could be one of the worst economic disasters in US history.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Mr. Fertitta said that while he supports the nationwide shutdown of businesses in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, he thinks that “in a few weeks people will need to be around people” and that “otherwise we are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”

According to the billionaire businessman, who aside from his gaming and hospitality empire also owns NBA franchise Houston Rockets, casinos and restaurants could be allowed to operate at 30%-40% capacity to mitigate the economic impact of the current restrictions and to make sure that companies remain in business.

70% of Staff Temporarily Laid Off

Mr. Fertitta told Bloomberg that they had to place 70% of their staff on furlough as a result from the closure of most of the businesses owned by him.

The businessman is not the only casino owner to have furloughed employees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Las Vegas casino giant MGM Resorts International laid off a number of employees following the closure of all of its US properties.

And as reported by Casino News Daily, the owners of Connecticut’s two casinos have placed their employees on furlough for the duration of the closure period.

Of the financial state of his businesses, Mr. Fertitta told Bloomberg said that he is confident these have access to enough cash to survive the current situation. Yet, the businessman said that he has been in talks with banks about potentially raising about $200 million in additional liquidity “as a little bit of insurance.”

Mr. Fertitta also noted that he is considering buying back Golden Nugget’s debt when things begin to turn back to normal and that he sees the move as great opportunity.

At present, the businessman’s Golden Nugget casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Lake Charles (Louisiana), and Biloxi (Mississippi) are temporarily shut down as are most of his restaurants. Those of his dining outlets that remain operational offer take-out and bring about 4%-5% of what they do when it is business as usual.

Mr. Fertitta noted that his gaming and hospitality businesses are burning through millions of dollars every day and that they are doing “basically no business.” The billionaire businessman noted that he wants to hire every furloughed employee back but “we have to survive or there is no company.”

Source: Billionaire Fertitta Furloughs 40,000 Workers at Casino, Restaurant Empire

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Foxwoods Casino Furloughs 5,000 Workers after Coronavirus Closure

Foxwoods Resort Casino, one of Connecticut’s two casinos, is facing criticism for placing more than 5,000 employees, including around 1,200 unionized workers, on furlough after it closed temporarily last week.

The state’s two tribal casinos as well as a number of other businesses were ordered to shut down for at least two weeks as part of the measures invoked by Connecticut lawmakers to reduce the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

Foxwoods, operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, and Mohegan Sun, managed by Mohegan Sun, are the only two casinos that are authorized to operate on the territory of Connecticut. Both properties went dark last Tuesday to join the slew of gambling venues around the country to close in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following Foxwoods’ closure, news emerged that the casino has furloughed more than 5,000 workers, including 1,200 unionized employees represented by Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers.

The union informed the affected workers that the casino did not agree to paid leave for workers. The gambling venue closed amid contract negotiations between its management and employees represented by Local 2121.

Commenting on Foxwoods’ actions, Local 2121 President John DelMonte said that they were very disappointed that the casino refused to negotiate paid leave and that they were proactive when seeking casino management’s assistance on the issue, while Foxwoods instead “chose to be reactive.”

Mr. DelMonte also pointed out that Local 2121 was given 24 hours to inform its members that they would be placed on furlough for two weeks and would be forced to collect unemployment if they sought minimum compensation.

A Great Hardship

Mr. DelMonte said that Foxwoods’ refusal to negotiate paid leave has “caused our members and the other 4,000 workers at Foxwoods a great hardship as well as overloading our state’s unemployment system.”

The previous contract between unionized workers and Foxwoods expired on December 31, 2019, but its terms remain in force until a new agreement is negotiated. Neither side has provided information on the progress of ongoing discussions over new contract terms.

In response to Local 2121’s criticism over the furloughs, Foxwoods President and CEO John James said that the unprecedented situation forces them to make business decisions that are based on a number of factors “including the safety of our Team Members and guests as well as the requirements and/or guidance of executive orders/requests from the Governor and other state leaders.”

Mr. James went on that they recognize and respect their duty to bargain and that they will continue their obligation, but they “also have to be nimble as things develop rapidly.” The executive promised that they will try to do what is best for their employees and the business in order to all come out of the situation in a manner that will allow them to recover.

Most workers at the other Connecticut casino, Mohegan Sun, have, too, been placed on furlough following the property’s closure last week. The casino said that its team members will continue to receive health benefits as well as access to key services during the period of closure.

Source: Foxwoods’ unionized dealers furloughed along with rest of casino’s workers

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Colorado won’t stop employers from firing workers for using weed off the clock

Colorado legislators decided Wednesday not to advance a bill that aimed to protect employees from being fired for using marijuana in their personal time.

The 10 members of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee voted unanimously against the bill, HB 20-1089, after nearly three hours of testimony from people on each side.

Though the bill would have done nothing to prohibit employers from administering drug tests, many committee members cited the lack of an adequate test to determine whether an employee is intoxicated in the moment — much like a breathalyzer does for alcohol — as a reason to table it. Others thought the proposed change to the law was too broad.

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Man sentenced for bribing 2 New Jersey postal workers to deliver packages of marijuana shipped from California

NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey drug dealer who bribed postal workers to bring him marijuana parcels he had shipped in from California has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Glenn Blackstone, 50, of Newark will also have to serve five years of supervised release once he’s freed from prison under the sentence imposed Monday. He had pleaded guilty in April 2018 to giving bribes and conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

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