Ameristar cites COVID-19 shutdown, operating restrictions for upcoming layoffs
Ameristar Casino is expected to lay off 150 employees beginning Aug. 15, according to a letter sent to the city of Vicksburg and dated June 10.
According to a letter obtained by The Post, officials at Ameristar said the layoffs “will be permanent, but the facility will remain open.”
The notice of the layoffs to city officials is required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act that “helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “compliance assistance materials to help workers and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the provisions of WARN” are available.
In the letter, which was signed by Ameristar General Manager Gerad Hardy, the company said “these layoffs at Ameristar Casino are the unfortunate result of COVID-19-related business circumstances that were sudden, dramatic and beyond our control,” the letter said.
“The impact on our business was not reasonably foreseeable until now. 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. These significant drags on our business will likely continue for the foreseeable future. “
On March 16, the Mississippi Gaming Commission ordered all of the state’s casinos — four of which are in Vicksburg — to close as part of the state’s response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Those casinos were allowed to reopen May 21, but under strict social distancing guidelines, which limited the number of guests who could be in casinos. Those guidelines also limited the number of players at each table game and at slot machines, as well as dozens of other limitations and guidelines.
“Finally, we could not have anticipated when our properties would be allowed to reopen and how restrictive the new operating conditions would be, and the negative impact this would have on business volumes,” Hardy said. “As a result of all of these unfortunate circumstances, we are notifying you of this decision as soon as we practically could, taking into account the great difficulties our entire industry faces in projecting future staffing needs under these unprecedented circumstances.”
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