Penn National Gaming’s M Resort, Tropicana Las Vegas Announce More Layoffs

Posted on: October 27, 2020, 03:52h. 

Last updated on: October 27, 2020, 09:04h.

A Nevada economy still in the doldrums from the COVID-19 crisis received some more bad news in recent days. Two Las Vegas-area casinos operated by Penn National Gaming announced more layoffs.

Vegas casino layoffs
The M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson, seen here, is one of two Penn National operated casinos in Las Vegas that has announced more layoffs in the next two months. (Image: Soundsfancy/Wikimedia Commons)

Last Wednesday, the M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson reported to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation that 236 employees will be permanently laid off starting on Dec. 21 or within 14 days after that date.

Then, on Friday, the Tropicana Las Vegas announced it was letting go of 132 workers effective Dec. 23. That cut is in addition to 685 employees laid off earlier this month.

The Tropicana, which Penn National sold in March to Gaming and Leisure in a leaseback arrangement, planned to lay off 702 this month. But in a separate letter to the state, it said that 17 employees, mostly dealers, would be retained for two more months.

Penn National blamed the pandemic for the reductions in force, noting among the reasons the “restrictive” nature of the new operating conditions.

We simply could not foresee that the initial closures of our properties that were issued by one or two states for a limited period of time ultimately spread throughout all the states in which we operate and eventually be extended, interrupting almost all business and travel temporarily,” both letters stated. “These significant drags on our business will likely continue for the foreseeable future.”

Tropicana’s letter was signed by Assistant General Manager Mike Thoma, and M’s signed by General Manager, Hussain Mahrous. Neither M nor Tropicana listed what positions would be eliminated in their letters.

Penn National Stock Up as Employment Roll Declines

Penn National’s stock soared for months after it hit a 52-week low of $3.75 during the early days of the pandemic in mid-March. That’s when states were forcing all casinos to close up indefinitely. For most Nevada casinos, reopenings began in early June.

Just a month ago, the stock hit a 52-week high of $76.62, with the accelerated growth due mostly to anticipation for and the initial launch of Penn’s Barstool Sports betting app in Pennsylvania. Penn National owns more than a third of the sports media company that generates 66 million unique visits a month. The hope is those visitors loyal to the media outlet will become loyal Barstool bettors as well.

The stock closed Monday at $60.68.

However, as Penn National’s stock has gone up, it’s workforce numbers have dropped. In June, it announced it would cut more than 2,500 jobs at casinos in eight states over the summer.

Penn has hardly been alone in having to let go of casino employees, as venues have reopened and stayed at limited capacities because of the pandemic. Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts International, Station Casinos, Full House Resorts, and Caesars Entertainment were among the gaming companies to announce layoffs, as they were allowed to reopen in Vegas and other communities.

Nevada Unemployment Second-Worst in US

Nevada’s unemployment figures have slowly improved since the pandemic’s peak in early spring. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Nevada’s unemployment rate at 3.6 in February.

It skyrocketed to 30.1 percent in April, but has dropped each month since. Last week, the federal government reported a preliminary figure of 12.6 percent for Nevada in September. From April to September, the number of unemployed dropped from 429,700 to 191,700.

While the jobless numbers continue to recede, the state’s COVID-19 recovery remains slower than nearly every other state. BLS data shows that only Hawaii’s 15.1 percent unemployment rate is worse than the Silver State’s.