Sarno hopes changes in pandemic will restore casino jobs

Sept. 2, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – MGM Resorts International will be laying off 18,000 previously furloughed employees in the United States and about 1,000 will be from the MGM Springfield casino.

Seeking Alpha, an investment website, was among the business media sources that reported the decision. According to the site, “The global travel slowdown impedes the casino industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of this year, the company employed 70,000 workers in the U.S. Federal law requires workers to be given a separation date if they are furloughed for longer than six months, and Aug. 31 marks six months of administrative separation for the furloughed MGM employees.”

The Springfield casino opened earlier this summer with only an estimated one-third of its workforce. The hotel remained closed and the gaming floor had about one-third of its slot machines and table games open.

Mayor Domenic Sarno explained to Reminder Publishing that he had discussions with both MGM Resorts International CEO and President William Hornbuckle and MGM Springfield President Chris Kelly prior to the public announcement.

He said these are “extraordinary and surreal times.”

Gov. Charlie Baker brought some welcomed news to the city last week, Springfield is now “green” by state health officials and is at the lower risk for COVID-19 cases. The lower risk range indicator is a consistent daily case rate of less than four cases per 100,000 residents for a 14-day period.

Sarno expressed hope that with progress, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission might reconsider their recent decision to keep certain games closed. Amending that decision would restore some more jobs.

He noted that MGM Springfield did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Chris Lisinski of the State House News Service reported on Aug. 14,  “Roulette will not return to the state’s three casinos in the immediate future, nor will craps or poker, after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Aug. 13 declined to expand the slate of games offered during the limited-scope reopening that has been underway for weeks.

“Two of the casinos, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, had asked the commission to authorize craps and roulette, but commissioners agreed that now is not the time to do so given the current public health landscape and a recent – though since improved – uptick in COVID-19 transmission.

“‘In light of some of the increase in COVID things at this time, we didn’t really feel it was appropriate to add new games, so we’re going to continue reviewing this and keeping an eye on the COVID numbers and consider that at a later date,’ MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau Assistant Director Bruce Band said.”

Share this: