West Virginia’s Hollywood Casino Lays Off Over 540 Casino Workers

Posted on July 28, 2020 - Last Updated on July 31, 2020

The coronavirus continues to affect every part of the US, even one of the healthiest states in the country.

Last week, Hollywood Casino announced it would terminate about 40% of its employees. The West Virginia casino is located in Charles Town in Jefferson County.

Like many businesses in the Mountain State and around the country, the COVID-19 shutdown has taken its toll financially. Casinos everywhere have to make cutbacks, and unfortunately, that means staff members.

Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino, publicized that many furloughs are likely to become permanent. This decision could eliminate more than 540 of the 1,300 jobs at the casino.

The layoffs would start to go into effect in August.

Penn National had to notify the Jefferson County Commission because of its plan to reduce its workforce. The company has let go of over 3,000 employees at all of its locations in total.

Even while things are reopening in the state, the effects of the coronavirus are still being felt everywhere.

WV sportsbooks are seeing increased betting figures with some sports returning, but they aren’t generating nearly the figures they used to.

It helps that local casinos are open again; however, with limited capacity and markets at sportsbooks, revenue is still down.

This has forced Hollywood, and many other establishments, to make cuts from their regular staff.

Penn National’s senior vice president, Eric Schippers, discussed why they wouldn’t be able to bring everyone back. According to WV MetroNews, he said:

“However, while we have been able to reopen all but a couple of our properties on a limited basis, the continued social distancing requirements and uncertain business volumes means our properties will not be able to resume normal operations for the foreseeable future.”

Hollywood Casino Employee Layoffs

Of course, casinos only allowing in 50% of their usual crowds makes things very difficult on them financially. Not to mention, there aren’t even as many available slots and table games, so less money is being wagered in general.

With the recent surges in new cases around the US, it’s’s clear why businesses that involve lots of people are taking it slow. Although WV is still one of the healthiest states in the country, you can never be too careful with this pandemic.

Since many experts are predicting another wave of COVID-19 when the summer ends, it’s tough for casinos to commit to a full staff going forward.

Hopefully, the country can get on the right track and allow everyone to get back to work.

Fortunately, Hollywood employees who are being let go are not left empty-handed. Both Penn National and Jefferson County are looking to help those affected by the virus.

Hollywood’s owner stated it would continue to fulfill all health care and pharmaceutical benefits through August for those laid off.

Annette Gavin Bates, the CEO of the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke highly of this decision by Penn National. She said:

“I am very impressed by Penn’s continuing commitment to their employees’ (health insurance), which I think is stellar.”

The Jefferson County Development Authority wants to make things easier for those now unemployed, too.

Director Dennis Jarvis told Local DVM about their plan to help. He said:

“We’re going to offer our services as a liaison to the casino and racetrack … to make sure those employees have every avenue for employment services, training, educational opportunities.”

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Everyone in the country is feeling the impacts of the coronavirus. It’s possible that the retail casino industry won’t return to their usual ways for quite some time.

Penn National’s Schippers talked about their outlook going forward. He said:

“These are extremely challenging times both on a personal and a professional level, but the steps we have taken to this point, and plan to take going forward, are all aimed at positioning our Company and the majority of our team members to be able to weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side.”

While losing any job is painful, Jefferson County’s Jarvis knows there will be more opportunities for residents in this area. He said:

“Twenty percent of all the tourism tax dollars in the entire state come through Jefferson County. We’ve got growing expanding employers. We’re marketing our industrial park, and some available properties. And the housing market is very robust.”

Times are undoubtedly complicated right now, but hopefully, things can return closer to normal sooner than later.

In a bit of positive news in WV, the state has joined the world of online casino gambling.

DraftKings Casino was the first to launch. However, others should go live soon, as well. The mobile casino joins the three online sports betting apps already offered on the WV market.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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