Job losses pending
Greektown Casino in Detroit, Michigan is planning on laying off 621 employees this fall. According to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) filed with the state, the job cuts will begin on September 15. As opposed to many temporary furloughs in the gaming industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, these layoffs will be permanent. The casino originally shut down in March along with the rest of the casinos around the United States.
Greektown and the other two Detroit casinos, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity, are waiting for Governor Gretchen Whitmer to give the go-ahead for reopening. A date is not currently set for the casinos to be able to offer services again.
Letter from Greektown’s general manager
John Drake, the casino’s general manager, addressed the layoffs in a letter dated June 12. In the letter, Drake explained that the job losses were an unfortunate result of the pandemic, a set of business circumstances that were beyond the company’s control.
According to Drake, even when some casinos were closed in “one or two states for a limited period of time,” they could not predict how extreme the shutdowns would become. He added:
The impact on the business was not reasonably foreseeable until now.”
Once the casinos in Detroit are given clearance to reopen, the properties must adhere to strict guidelines. The Michigan Gaming Control Board will allow them to reopen at just 15% capacity. Both employees and patrons must wear masks and smoking will be banned on the gaming floor. Most games can be offered, but poker will have to remain on the sidelines.
Second round of layoffs
The announcement of permanent layoffs at Greektown Casino comes just a few months after its former parent company cut 92 jobs. In May 2019, JACK Entertainment LLC sold Greektown to Penn National Gaming and VICI Properties. Because its gaming footprint was narrowing, JACK needed to shed staff.
JACK Entertainment announced the layoffs just four months later. The company filed a WARN notice with the state, indicating the layoffs would start in November. Employees are non-unionized, so they do not have bumping rights to allow a senior employee to replace one with less seniority provided they had the right qualifications.