Encore Boston Harbor said Thursday that it is beginning to make some staffing cuts, after keeping its entire workforce on the payroll for more than two months amid a statewide shutdown of the casino industry in response to the pandemic.
The Everett casino, with about 4,200 employees, said it would stop paying its 850 part-time workers, effective Monday. It also said it would furlough more than 10 percent of the full-time workers. Most employees will remain on the payroll, though many will have their weekly hours reduced, said Eric Kraus, head of public affairs.
Kraus said the changes, “which we hope are temporary,” will be reviewed each month.
He said in a statement that the decision to reinstate workers affected by the moves “will be based on number of factors, including customer reception and market demand."
Encore has offered its employees the most generous compensation package of the three shuttered casinos in the state. Plainridge Park in Plainville and MGM Springfield furloughed or laid off most of their workers, starting in April, and the Springfield casino has told employees they should feel free to seek other employment.
But the program has been costly for the Everett casino’s Las Vegas parent company, Wynn Resorts, which had already endured a shutdown of its operation in the Asian gambling hub of Macau and is only just now preparing to resume limited operations in Las Vegas.
Across the company, Wynn said, it will have spent $220 million through May 31 on paying employees at closed casinos.
Encore’s decision is another blow to the workforce development efforts of the young gambling industry in Massachusetts, which spent several years and millions of dollars to recruit and train people for jobs. Now, some employees will be looking for work again at a time when 1.4 million Massachusetts residents have filed for unemployment benefits.
Kraus noted that Massachusetts casinos will be permitted to open no earlier than July ― and that’s only if key metrics on the spread of the disease continue to trend in the right direction.
“We still have no clear indication of when we can reopen and the conditions under which we will be permitted to operate,” he said.