Foxwoods Casino Workers to Lose Benefits, Await Connecticut Reopening

Posted on: May 9, 2020, 06:47h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2020, 11:40h.

Foxwoods Resort Casino remains closed by the coronavirus, and now the Connecticut tribal venue is planning to temporarily lay off the majority of its workers at the end of the month.

Foxwoods Plans Layoffs
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is still scheduled to perform at Foxwoods Casino in July. (Image: CNN)

Following the decision to shutter the casino in March, Foxwoods furloughed close to all of its 5,000 employees. Under the layoffs, it will mean an unspecified number of workers will no longer receive health benefits, The Day, a New London, Connecticut-based newspaper, reported.

Some workers will not be laid off, and instead will be given tasks while the casino prepares to reopen at a still-unidentified date or range of dates. These workers will be notified on May 22. They will keep on receiving benefits.

Under the first phase of reopening, Foxwoods will likely reopen the Grand Pequot and Great Cedar casino floors. It will also reopen the Grant Pequot Hotel and provide some food and beverage services, WVIT reported.

Although we took the immediate steps needed to preserve jobs and effectively position us for the future, ultimately, this pandemic has been cruel in many ways, and we need to adapt and evolve based on the current environment,” Foxwoods said in a statement released by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

“Since our closure, the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise has maintained health benefits in place for all employees. Although there is currently no confirmed reopening date, as the property prepares for the first phase, some team members will return based on which parts of the property we reopen,” the statement adds.

Foxwoods applied for government aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act. But less money was received from the federal relief program than hoped for, The Day said.

“This news is devastating to us,” the statement added. “Sometimes, the most vigilant of efforts are not enough to get us to where we need to be.”

Mohegan Sun Remains Shuttered

Elsewhere in Connecticut, Mohegan Sun, another tribal gaming property, also closed in March. Most of its workers were furloughed.

We are continuing to provide benefits to our team members that are furloughed and tribal leadership has not made that difficult decision to transition to layoffs at this time,” Chuck Bunnell, the Mohegan tribe’s chief of staff, told The Day.

Rodney A. Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, recently explained to ABC News that the tribe has “no gaming income. There’s no tax base here on the reservation. So, it’s costing us a couple of million a week just to stay closed.”

Safeguards will be put in place at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission upon reopening. Brian Hayes, vice president of analytics and slot operations at Foxwoods, says playing cards will be swapped out every one to four hours.

Other health precautions include increased frequency of cleaning high-touch areas, such as elevators, handrails, and bathrooms. Social distancing will be in effect, with vacant seats in-between gamblers likely.

Unsure if July Shows Will Go On

Foxwoods already canceled performances that were scheduled for April, May, and June, including 93-year-old crooner Tony Bennett.

The Go-Go’s are scheduled to perform in the Grand Theater on July 10. Janet Jackson, Pitbull, and Jerry Seinfeld are scheduled for later that month.

But the casino has yet to confirm the performances will take place.