SkyCity to Lay Off 700 Workers – Reopens New Zealand Casinos
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage businesses around the world, especially the casino industry. With many casinos closed, some casinos are continuing to make tough choices. SkyCity Entertainment Group has already laid off 200 workers and 90 percent of their Adelaide workforce is presently on furlough.
Now it appears that the company is looking at laying off an additional 700 workers in preparation for the future.
SkyCity Exploring Further Cost-Cutting Measures
SkyCity Entertainment Group released a statement on Monday outlining how it plans to minimize the impact of the temporary casino closures in both New Zealand and Australia. The company stated that it had “incredibly difficult” decisions to make, including a potential cut of 700 salaried employees. The company is preparing for what it calls a “new environment” for when the world emerges from the global pandemic.
As you may already know, the company has already taken cost-cutting measures, but it appears they will not be enough. About a month ago, the company laid off approximately 200 workers. This was in addition to furloughing approximately 90 percent of its Adelaide casino. Employees that remained on staff had to take a 20% pay cut, a move that the company had hoped would prevent further staff reductions.
Most Layoffs Will Occur in Auckland
According to reports, the majority of the 700 layoffs will be from the Auckland casino group. That group presently staffs approximately 3,000 employees. According to SkyCity CEO Graeme Stephens, the process will take a few weeks. The company plans to assist the workers impacted by the cuts.
In addition to staff cuts, the company is also looking into suspending its stock dividend program. This will save the company money and also help them to raise additional capital for the business, something that it desperately needs. The company is expecting the downturn to continue, particularly since it is experiencing a major impact on VIP gambling due to the pandemic.
New Zealand Operations Resume on Thursday
These layoffs come as the casino plans to restart operations in New Zealand. Starting on Thursday, members will be able to play in the Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown casinos. There will be numerous restrictions in place. Here are what players can expect:
- Casinos will be open to members only. Facial recognition technology will be active at the casino so that the casino can work with the Ministry of Health should a COVID-positive person play at the casino.
- Gaming floor will be split into zones in Hamilton and Auckland with no more than 100 members and staff in a zone at any one time.
- Pokies and other gaming machines will have a configuration to allow for social distancing.
- Limits on table gaming seating and no back betting to prevent table crowding.
- Physical distancing guidelines will be in place in all areas of the casino, including when waiting to enter a casino or when waiting for takeout.
- Significant increase in cleaning services to ensure sanitized playing areas.
- Hand sanitizers and wipes will be available for all members and staff.
- Wearing a mask is encouraged but is not mandatory for guests and employees.
- Restaurant groups will have a limit of 10 patrons max.
- Venues that only serve alcohol will remain closed until May 21.
SkyCity Reopening as Domestically Focused Business
The reopening will result in SkyCity becoming a smaller company, with a domestic focus, at least for the immediate future. According to Stephen, “For a company that is centered around its people, this is incredibly difficult for all involved. At SkyCity we are a family and it is incredibly tough to say goodbye to valued team members, however, we need to ensure our business is best prepared to operate in the new environment.
These difficult actions will help to create a business that is sustainable in the medium and long term and one which can continue to support the thousands of jobs that will still remain. We will be working with those potentially affected, their managers and the unions and expect the process to take some weeks,”
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