Almost all of the workers employed by casinos in northwest Indiana are now on furlough.
That’s around 5,000 employees that will be going without pay.
The Indiana Gaming Commission shut down casinos around the Hoosier State weeks ago to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Things might not return to normal for a while. That could put those furloughed employees in a tough spot.
Each casino’s parent company has decided to start its furlough period at different times. They also all vary as to when their employees will stop receiving medical benefits.
Ameristar Casino first to furlough employees
East Chicago’s Ameristar was the first casino in Northwest Indiana to make the changes.
Penn National Gaming owns Ameristar, along with plenty of other casinos around the country. So far, the company’s furloughs have affected around 26,000 workers at its locations.
Penn National’s CEO Jay Snowden said the decision was a tough one to make.
“Penn National is a family, and we deeply regret the hardship this will place on you and your loved ones. We are extremely motivated and focused on reopening our properties as soon as it is safe and legal to do so.”
The company just could no longer afford to keep all of its employees at over 40 locations on payroll. However, Penn National will be maintaining medical benefits for its employees until June 30.
Caesars, Horseshoe Hammond in a similar spot
Caesars Entertainment has furloughed around 90% of its workforce so far. The company employs over 64,000 people, so that’s quite a hit.
Since Caesars owns Horseshoe Hammond, those furloughs include almost all of the workers at the casino.
Indiana’s casinos were originally shut down in mid-March. Caesars kept its employees at Horseshoe Hammond on payroll with full benefits for two weeks after the shutdown, but can no longer afford to continue indefinitely.
CEO of Caesars Entertainment Tony Rodio said that the furloughs were necessary for the company.
“Given the closure of our properties, we are taking the difficult but necessary steps to protect the company’s financial position and its ability to recover when circumstances allow us to reopen and begin welcoming our guests and employees back to our properties”
Caesars will be paying 100% of the health insurance premiums for its employees through June 30.
Gary Indiana’s Majestic Star casinos join the pack
Spectacle Entertainment owns both the Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II casinos in Gary, Indiana.
The Indiana-based company is much smaller compared to Caesars and Penn National. Despite its smaller size, Spectacle also paid its employees through March 29.
However, it was eventually forced to furlough almost all of its employees. Spectacle released a statement about the decision.
“Our team members are our most valuable asset and the champions of our business. Unfortunately, except for some security, surveillance and other critical personnel, we had no choice but to furlough approximately 95% of our workforce on March 30, in accordance with union and non-union guidelines.”
Spectacle will be covering 100% of the costs for its employees’ health benefits through the end of April.
It could be a while before casinos reopen
The Indiana Gaming Commission made the call to shut down Indiana’s casinos on March 16. That was originally only going to last for two weeks.
However, on March 23 Gov. Eric Holcomb decided to close all non-essential businesses in the state, casinos included.
Holcomb extended that order even further on April 6. At the very least, the Hoosier State will remain shut down until April 20.
The IGC won’t be giving casinos the green light to reopen during that stretch.
That stay at home order might end up being extended again, although it’s too early to tell. Hopefully, for Hoosiers and casino workers alike, the COVID-19 situation will resolve itself sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, the only casino in the region that’s still paying its employees is Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.
That might be changing soon too though. Blue Chip employees will be getting their paychecks through April 9, but the casino hasn’t announced what will happen after that date.