Pandemic: Casino Chain Eyes Up to 1,500 Louisiana Layoffs

LAFAYETTE (AP) — Coronavirus pandemic closings have cost Louisiana casinos hundreds of millions of dollars, and one chain has told the state it may lay off as many as 1,500 workers.

Monthly revenue reports show that casinos lost about $347 million during March and April, with another $90 million or more lost by video gaming establishments, The Advertiser reported.

And, though Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp. hasn’t set actual totals, it has sent more than 1,500 employees at its five Louisiana casinos letters advising them that they might be laid off, spokesman David Strow said Friday.

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The company’s notification to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board said layoffs are expected during the first two weeks in July, the newspaper reported. They include up to 414 workers at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Shreveport, 354 at Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, 340 at Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, 246 at Evangeline Downs Racetrack in Opelousas and 170 at Amelia Belle Casino in Amelia.

Strow said in an email that he did not know current employee totals.

Those casinos lost a total of more than $70.2 million in March and April. Layoffs could range between 25% and 60% of the workers at each location, The Advertiser reported.

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Affected workers include dealers, cashiers and others who work on gaming floors; cooks and other food service workers; and spa workers, parking attendants, security workers and custodians.

Boyd, which furloughed many workers nationwide starting April 11, said furloughs would last six months.

“The pandemic’s effects on our business remain unpredictable,” with required precautions “subject to constant updates and modification,” Boyd Vice President of Corporate Human Resources Chris Smith wrote in the notice.

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Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered casinos to close March 22 as part of measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Casinos outside New Orleans, which is taking a slower approach to reopening, were able to open at 25% capacity on May 15, with half of their gaming stations operating. As of June 5, they could have 50% occupancy and 75% of stations opening.

Racetracks, which have slot machines, are still not open to spectators.

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