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Joliet casino issues layoff notices, expects business to be down

Hollywood Casino Joliet has issued 145 layoff notices.
Hollywood Casino Joliet has issued 145 layoff notices.

Hollywood Casino Joliet is one of three casinos in Illinois to announce large layoffs.

Penn National Gaming, which owns all three casinos, said in a statement that it has given layoff notices to employees, but some may keep their jobs.

Hollywood Casino Joliet faces the possibility of 145 layoffs, according to a workforce reduction notice sent to the state June 12.

The layoffs, scheduled to start Sept. 15, are the first mass layoffs announced at Illinois casinos.

Illinois casinos reopened July 1 after being closed for three months by stay-at-home orders enacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Casinos are looking at the likelihood of lower than normal revenues for some time with gaming operations reduced to meet social distancing standards.

Layoff notices also were given to 111 workers at Hollywood Casino Aurora and Argosy Casino Alton.

Penn National Gaming owns 41 gaming and racing properties in 19 states.

Company spokesman Eric Schippers said in a statement that Penn does not expect reopened casinos will require the same staffing levels because of “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.”

Schippers said that the notice “does not necessarily mean that all those team members will be laid off.”

The Penn layoff notices were the first large job reductions announced at Illinois casinos, although thousands were furloughed while they were forced to close, said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association.

Swoik said casinos are looking at the possibility of continued low revenues.

“Some of my members were saying they thought revenues would be down 50% for the last six months of this year,” he said.

Lower revenue at the casinos has also meant fewer tax dollars for the city of Joliet.

The city’s finance director estimated that the city was losing about $1.3 million a month in casino taxes while Hollywood and Harrah’s Casino were closed.

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