Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the global gaming industry has taken a huge blow, and in the U.S., all casinos are reportedly shut down. Hopes of being able to resume operations rapidly have been hampered by the virus ‘continued existence, with the introduction of new instructions to extend the closures until the end of the month.
Atlantic City, the casino centre for New Jersey, was already in a bad position when COVID-19 reached the city, and the virus only made matters worse. As a result, 16,000 casino workers are at home, with not enough money in the bank to survive the storm, hoping to be able to obtain some form of unemployment insurance.
Some of the country’s casino owners, including Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, have enough cash to carry on paying furloughed workers. That’s not the case for those in Atlantic City though. The Atlantic City Press notes that the workers were given their pink slips so that the casinos would save money and encourage the employees to apply for reimbursement for unemployment. However, once health authorities give the all-clear and authorities remove the suspension from the casino, the businesses have suggested they will bring the workers back.
Throughout New Jersey, unemployment reports have continued to increase since the state-wide shutdown began. There could be approximately 6,800 applications in a typical week. There were 206,253 from March 22 to 28, however, and 155,815 were seen from the week before. Such numbers make New Jersey one of the top-ranking states for jobless claims in the U.S.
Originally, when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy introduced the shutdown on March 16, casinos were prepared to give their workers compensation plans. However, the change to the fire / rehire scheme was chosen in light of the ongoing suspension.
Some of those may now be enjoying the extra free time on their hands from the forced holiday, but it does have consequences. These employees are no longer eligible for health care, which is a significant concern considering the current health issues, and there is also no assurance that the casinos can return 100 percent of their employee contingents once they start working. This could be a great opportunity for casino operators to review their staffing requirements and continue to slash their workforce.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in a statement about the current situation basically referred to that reality. Atlantic City Press quotes the president of the establishment, Joe Lupo, who has said: “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is committed to our team members during these unprecedented times, ensuring that our communication has been open and direct. COVID-19 has and will continue to have a tremendous financial impact on our team and business, resulting in incredibly difficult decisions made now and in the future.”
Ocean Casino Resort followed a similar approach. It gave workers a memo, which reads: “We plan to reinstate your employment as soon as we have the business needs and are permitted to operate.” The use of the words ” business needs” are subjective.
Nevertheless, both businesses were willing to support their employees as much as possible. For example, Hard Rock has encouraged qualified workers to take advantage of their accumulated off time and to “borrow” another two weeks so they don’t have to apply for unemployment immediately. Ocean CEO Terry Glebocki has said he is committed to getting the workers back as far as possible.