There’s little doubt that casino operators who have furloughed or let go employees as a result of the coronavirus need to seriously reconsider how they get back in the game as they look to start the recovery process. The millions of dollars in losses will need a considerable amount of time to recover, and many casino workers will most likely find that their temporary work suspensions turn into something more permanent. This will definitely be the case at Station Casinos, which has already confirmed that it has no plans to bring back its entire workforce.
Station sent out a letter to its employees last Friday, explaining that “meaningful staffing level reductions” at its casinos in Nevada were in order. These reductions will take effect as of May 16, with Station CEO and chairman Frank Fertitta III adding, “We have tried to retain our entire team, but in the face of this continued uncertainty we can no longer do so.” Nevada will begin to open for business as of May 15, but casinos won’t be included in the first wave of operations allowed to get back on its feet.
It’s possible, according to Fertitta’s letter, that the company could first look to properties such as Red Rock Resort, Palace Station, Sunset Station, Green Valley Ranch Resort as the first venues to welcome gamblers once it gets things rolling. Other properties, like Fiesta Rancho and The Palms, would most likely see a relaunch at a later date, but only after Station can determine how the company is progressing “in a post-COVID-19 world.” Station apparently doesn’t have much optimism that it will be able to keep all of its gaming operations intact, adding, “When we are permitted to reopen, we don’t know what business will look like other than knowing that business levels will be lower as a result of this unprecedented crisis.”
Station, which has been the center of controversy in the casino industry lately over its refusal to recognize workers unions, previously announced that it would pay all full-time employees until May 16, and even moved some part-time employees to full-time status so they could be included. The company has also decided to extend medical and dental coverage through the end of September, and those employees whose status wasn’t affected by the furloughs will receive their normal pay and benefits through the end of this month.
Station doesn’t indicate how many employees might find themselves looking to draw unemployment. The company had around 14,000 employees, per its latest annual SEC filing at the end of January, and many of these are already on temporary furlough. Fertitta adds in his communication with the Station staff, “This has been the most challenging and painful situation in our company’s history. We are hopeful though that Las Vegas will rebound swiftly and allow us to rehire many of our valued team members when we emerge on the other side of this crisis.”