About 17 million Americans, or 10 percent of the country’s workforce, have filed for unemployment since the the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic on March 12. In Las Vegas, that means layoffs and furloughs at gaming companies across the city that come after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak closed nonessential businesses, including all 219 casinos statewide, as well as restaurants and bars, on March 17 in a measure that has now been extended until April 30. While restaurants can continue to serve food via takeout and delivery, no casino in the state is open.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas expanded its furloughs that initially went into effect last month. The resort plans to pay full-time and eligible part-time and on-call employees through April 16 and will cover health benefits through June 30. Some employees will remain employed but take a pay decrease, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Boyd Gaming Corp., which runs 12 gaming companies in Las Vegas and 29 across the country, placed most of its staff on unpaid furlough starting this Saturday. The roughly 10,000 full- and part-time employees in Nevada were being paid through April 10. Boyd, which operates Main Street Station, Suncoast, The Orleans, and more in the city, will cover all insurance premiums for furloughed workers through June 30 or their return to work, whichever comes first, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
The company also ordered salary reductions for executives and any staff who were not furloughed. Boyd’s board of directors also will not receive compensation and capital projects were put on hold.
In a bit of good news, Station Casinos says its plans to extend full pay and benefits for employees through May 15. Richard J. Haskins, president of parent company Red Rock Resorts, shared the news with staff in a memo sent out on Wednesday. The company operates 17 properties in Las Vegas, including Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, the Palms, Palace Station, and more.
The company initially announced that it would pay employees through April 30. Full-time hourly, salaried employees, and nearly 700 part-time workers who were converted to full-time employees in March are all included, the memo says.
“Nothing is more important to use than the health and well-being of our team members, guests, and the entire Las Vegas community, and we wholeheartedly support that decision by the governor,” Haskins says in the memo.
Wynn Las Vegas, the first casino to announce it was closing, is already paying its entire workforce through May 15. CEO Matt Maddox tells CNBC that the financial crisis in 2008 taught him that it pays off to retain employees in the long run even it if hurts the company financially in the short term. “I can’t imagine going out [to] rehire and retrain 13,000 people. I’d rather keep the knowledge and experience that we have now in the service standards,” he tells the news organization.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. is paying its workforce at the Venetian and Palazzo through May 15. Sands is paying 1,200 employees at 14 restaurants at the resort as well. Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson announced his plans to continue paying his staff as if they were still working in an op-ed piece in the New York Post last week. “We’re even working to make up for lost tips,” he wrote. “I hope to do that right up until the time that we can reopen our businesses.” The company employs 51,500 worldwide.
MGM Resorts International, the largest employer in Nevada, says 60,000 of its employees have been furloughed. The company set up an Employee Emergency Grant Fund that provides employees and their immediate families with short-term relief for paying bills. Full-time employees, on-call employees, and those facing layoff, separation or furlough can request assistance. On Wednesday, the company announced that entertainers including magicians David Copperfield, Shin Lim, and Hans Klok; comedians Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Kathleen Madigan, David Spade, Brad Garrett, Carrot Top, and Ray Romano; singers Boyz II Men; ventriloquist Terry Fator; and performers from Jabbawockeez, Thunder from Down Under, Australian Bee Gees, Fantasy, and Bill Blumenreich Presents donated to the $11 million fund.
The American Gaming Association estimates that nearly 650,000 casino employees are out of work nationwide with 206,000 in Nevada alone. The Wall Street Journal estimates that job losses due to coronavirus could double those of 2007-09 recession. About 320,000 Nevada workers are at risk, twice the number in the late 2000s. That could push Nevada’s unemployment rate above 30 percent.
On April 3, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported 71,942 regular initial claims for the week ending March 28, down 20,356 claims, or 22.1 percent, compared to the previous week’s total of 92,298.
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