MGM Resorts International, which owns Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, laid off roughly 73 staff at the South Jersey resort and cut hours of another estimated 349 workers, as the COVID-19 pandemic wrecks the nationwide casino industry.
“Earlier this week, our governor issued an executive order to temporarily adjust hours of operation for indoor food and beverage service in public areas,” reads the one-page letter dated Nov. 13 from Borgata President Melonie Johnson, first reported by the Associated Press.
“Regrettably, due to the adjusted operations and overall impact of the pandemic on business, we’ve been forced to modify our staffing levels.”
Borgata, the state’s largest casino, opened a month later than its eight Atlantic City competitors which opened just before July 4 weekend, citing the pause on indoor dining plans which Murphy announced as the nation was seeing a summer rebound of the virus.
Gov. Phil Murphy this week ordered businesses to cease indoor dining operations between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. as of Thursday. Johnson warned that the reduced hours for indoor dining, plus a ban on bar-seating, would take a sizable bite out of Borgata’s already struggling bottom-line.
The move by the governor came in response to a surge of new cases and total COVID-19 hospitalizations: more than 3,000 new positives for the fourth day in a row, and close to 2,000 hotel hospitalizations for the first time since early June.
Data from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement showed Borgata with a consistently sluggish rebound ever since it resumed operations at their brick and mortar location at the end of July.
They posted a nearly 90% hit to their brick and mortar winnings in July compared to the same month last year, a 44% hit in August, a 31% hit in September and a 20% hit in October.
Data from the NJDGE showed that Borgata laid off 2,295 previously furloughed employees on Aug. 31. MGM said that 3,100 Borgata would still be employed.
“I understand the impact this will have on these employees and their families,” MGM President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Hornbuckle said in August. “Nothing pains me more than delivering news like this.”
Borgata is offering room service dining all day Saturday and Sunday, and between 4 p.m. and midnight between Monday and Friday, as well as take-out options after 10 p.m., according Johnson.
And she assured that the terminated employees will be on the Borgata health plan through Dec. 31, and have access to the chain’s several re-employment benefits.
“The Casino Association of New Jersey understands the administration’s concerns and that is why the industry has taken extraordinary measures to safely welcome back thousands of hardworking employees and valued guests, while also helping to minimize the exposure of Atlantic City casino property guests, our employees, and our local community to the COVID-19 virus,” reads a statement this week from Steve Calendar, the casino trade group’s president.r