Penn National’s Greektown Casino-Hotel To Lay Off 621 Workers In Detroit

Written By Matt Schoch on June 17, 2020

Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit is among the Penn National Gaming properties reducing staff. Penn disclosed on Monday that, starting Sept. 15, it will lay off 621 employees.

The casino filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice with the state, confirming news from its parent company, that some furloughs will become permanent layoffs across the country.

Greektown has been closed since March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic and is awaiting permission from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen.

The governor indicated recently that the reopening of Detroit’s casinos could be soon, possibly by the Fourth of July.

Playinmichigan estimates the closure of commercial casinos has cost the state about $30 million and the city of Detroit about $50 million in three months.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board said the revenue for the casinos was down 51.6% through May compared to last year.

WARN notice discloses Greektown layoffs

The WARN notice, signed by Greektown General Manager John Drake, said the layoffs would begin on Sept. 15 and continue for a 14-day period.

“These layoffs at Greektown Casino-Hotel are the unfortunate result of COVID-19 related business circumstances that were sudden, dramatic and beyond our control. The impact on our business was not reasonably foreseeable until now.”

Later, Drake said, “These significant drags on our business will likely continue for the foreseeable future.”

Greektown employees in the Unite Here Local 24 union are subject to bumping rights from their collective bargaining agreement.

Representatives from Greektown and Unite Here Local 24 had not returned messages from Playinmichigan as of Wednesday morning.

MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino had not yet disclosed permanent layoffs. In May, MGM issued a notice it had laid off most of its workforce, with 2,632 employees temporarily furloughed.

Several of Michigan’s tribal casinos have reopened after all 23 closed because of the pandemic.

Layoffs throughout Penn National Gaming casinos

According to a notice filed with the state of Pennsylvania, Penn National will lay off 233 employees in Pennsylvania and its Las Vegas location starting on Aug. 15.

A Penn National spokesman confirmed to Playinmichigan permanent layoffs were coming.

Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs and government relations, confirmed 26,000 employees were furloughed in April.

In a statement, Schippers said:

“After thoroughly re-evaluating our business in light of the ongoing pandemic, we wanted to communicate honestly and openly with our team members that it could be some time before all of our remaining properties are open, and that those properties that are open will unfortunately not require the same level of staffing due to limitations and restrictions placed on occupancy and offerings to create a safer environment. As a result, we informed our team members that their furloughs may be converted to a permanent layoff in the coming weeks or months. We had a legal obligation to send a formal WARN notice to all the team members who could potentially be laid off. To be clear, however, that does not necessarily mean that all those team members will be laid off.”

Furloughed team members will have medical benefits extended through July 31.

The company disclosed that it raised $1.7 million for a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for workers. Penn National senior executives, the board of directors and the company’s foundation donated the funds.

To date, more than $415,000 has been approved for distribution for emergency funding needs for team members, the company said.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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