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Plainridge employees to be furloughed without pay amid pandemic

Plainridge Park Casino in September 2019.
Plainridge Park Casino in September 2019.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Employees at the Plainridge Park Casino will be out of work without pay starting April 1, while the parent company of the Plainville casino closes its 41 gambling establishments and furloughs about 26,000 workers nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from the company.

Plainridge Park has been closed since March 15 at the direction of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but the parent company, Penn National Gaming, has pledged that employees will be paid through the end of March.

Penn National said it was necessary to shutter all its casinos and furlough employees because multiple states have issued orders requiring businesses to close to help slow the outbreak’s spread, and more states are likely to follow.

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Jay Snowden, president and chief executive of Penn National, told employees in a letter Friday that he had made a wrenching decision to furlough them during what was “by far the most difficult week of my professional career.”

“This decision was extremely difficult to make for all of us at Penn,” Snowden said in the letter. “Penn National is a family, and we deeply regret the hardship this will place on you and your loved ones. We are extremely motivated and focused on re-opening our properties as soon as it is safe and legal to do so.”

Snowden said employees who get health insurance through Penn National will maintain their benefits through the end of June, “to help ease some of the burden.” The company has set up an emergency relief fund through its charitable arm to help assist employees and communities where it operates during the crisis.

Penn National is also selling the building housing its Tropicana Las Vegas casino but will continue operating it, and the company has negotiated a new lease for a planned casino in Morgantown, Pa., as part of its effort to control its finances amid the outbreak, Snowden said.

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Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.