PLAINVILLE — Plainridge management says it may have to make furloughs of some of its employees permanent, but won’t reveal how many workers at the slot parlor and racetrack might lose their jobs.
And it warned that the company’s properties might not be able to resume normal operations “for the foreseeable future.”
Penn National Gaming, Plainridge’s parent company, said Wednesday that it has told workers across its properties nationwide that “their furloughs may be converted to a permanent layoff in the coming weeks or months.” The company furloughed some 26,000 workers as it dealt with shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said the layoffs would affect Plainridge workers, but it would not say how many would lose their jobs or how many would remain. Plainridge reported to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission when it opened five years ago that it would have 461 permanent employees.
That number was cut to about 20 during the slot parlor’s four-month closure under Massachusetts’ emergency shutdown orders.
Plainridge reopened, with limited capacity, to gamblers in July and the company called back some of its workforce, but did not announce how many employees had returned. The company says it continued to provide employee benefits through August for workers who had been furloughed.
The $7.7 million in revenue the state’s only slot parlor reported in a shortened July looked like a promising restart.
However, the company said this week that operations continue to be impacted by the pandemic.
“While we have been able to reopen all but a couple of our properties on a limited basis, the continued social distancing requirements and uncertain business volumes means our properties will not be able to resume normal operations for the foreseeable future,” Eric Schippers, senior vice president for public affairs at Penn National Gaming, said this week.
Schippers said workers were told “it could be some time before our properties will require the same level of staffing due to limitations and restrictions placed on occupancy and offerings to create a safer environment.” Workers were told furloughs may be converted to permanent layoffs and that the announcement could be made in the coming weeks or months.
“To be clear, however, that does not necessarily mean that all those team members will be laid off, and we’ve recalled a significant number of team members since then,” he said.
The state’s other gaming venues have made similar moves. MGM Springfield last month told 1,000 workers not to expect to return soon and about 800 remain employed. Encore Boston Harbor laid off about 385 of its 2,700 employees, and another 915 remain on furlough.
Schippers said Penn National’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has raised $1.7 million through private donations from senior executives, board of directors, and its foundation to help workers with any emergency needs. To date approximately $900,000 has already been approved and processed for distribution, he said.