Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos

“Nothing is permanent, but change.”  How true, especially as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have been turned upside down. Many of us feel anxiety, frustration, and despair every day, feeling on edge, even for the simplest of things. That’s why today we look at Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos.

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature’s inexorable imperative.”


Adapt or perish is what the casino industry is trying to do after losing millions of dollars. Operators are facing zero income with a limited supply of cash. The real victims?  Furloughed and laid off staff from casinos around the country.

  • Atlantic City casinos collectively suffered a $112m loss in Q2 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In Las Vegas, research shows that MGM and Boyd Gaming have enough cash to last 9 months during these pandemic conditions. Penn National only 5.2 months. (Macquarie Research) Both MGM & Penn have New England casinos

Layoffs Represent Tough Road For Many in New England

Casino staff members from the bottom up are dealing with unemployment at a staggering rate. The pandemic continues to impact many casino businesses, including affiliated businesses such as transportation and food vendors. Mandated capacity restrictions and business demand have closed amenities and venues, making it impossible to bring back casino staff.

Stricter mandates in Massachusetts make it even harder. MGM Springfield had been expected to create about 3,000 permanent jobs. Last week, MGM Springfield told 1,000 laid-off employees that they were unlikely to reclaim their jobs anytime soon. Affected employees’ benefits would be paid through September.

Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos
Encore Boston Harbor

Encore Boston Harbor in Everett has 2,700 people on its payroll and another 1,300 on furlough. The Everett casino laid off 385 more employees recently. And Plainridge Park, the slots-only casino in Plainville, is working with a skeleton crew since opening. It had 485 people working there at the end of last year.

Connecticut and Rhode Island – Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos

Mohegan Sun announced it will lay off workers on furlough and have not yet been called back to work. NBC CT reported that the move could result in 1,000 job losses.

In Rhode Island, more than 1,300 furloughed Twin River employees could be laid off from the casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton, and the company has warned Rhode Island labor officials.

“Any change, even for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”

Arnold Bennett

But, I Used To Get “blah, blah, blah” at My Casino Before?

This transition to the pandemic and post-pandemic conditions in our gambling parlors will need lots and lots of patience from players.  We’ve all seen it – less service, fewer comps, less free play, etc. Unfortunately, some casinos may not last at this rate of cutbacks. You might not have your favorite casino in six months.

The “Old Days” vs. the “New Normal” 

Things have changed. If you expect your casino visit to be like it was in 2019, you have already set yourself up for disappointment.

Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos
Cocktail Waitress with “free” drinks.

Drink Options and Services

“The Old Days” – A free drink while playing has always been an entitled perk.

“The New Normal” – cut back in beverage staffing causes wait time or not drinking at all. It has already changed. Years ago, Caesars and other companies added drink coupon service at bar top machines. Simple, you play a certain amount; you get a drink coupon. Not playing enough? Sorry, water is available.

Comps & Promotions

Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos

“The New Normal”  – some casinos don’t have the space to offer promotions that would entice tons of players to supplement those promotions. I know many think the casino “owes you something,” but, let’s be honest – it doesn’t. Including that cut down free slot play so many are moaning about. It’s in business. Don’t like it? Take your money elsewhere.  But beware – sooner or later, they all will be doing it to get back on better financial footing.

One positive temporary note – MGM International’s lengthening Status Tier Levels in MLife until 2022 is certainly a plus.


“The Old Days” – What a day. Gambling all day. Great hotel room, concert tonight, and then bar-hopping until the morning to plop in bed. What a day. 

“The New Normal” no entertainment, bars closed, some hotels not open, limited dining…geez, it seems like all there is here is gambling. Well, no kidding.” The Old Days” actually were Vegas and Atlantic City before the great casino expansion. The “Old Days” had great gambling odds (unlike today), a cheap room, coupons for food deals, and lounge entertainment. Entertainment will return….patience.

VIP Lounges

“The Old Days” – what’s a VIP Lounge? 

Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos
Inside MGM VIP LoungeInside MGM VIP Lounge

“The New Normal” It’s free for higher levels of play. It exists. However, players are upset because it’s not up to pre-pandemic standards. Capacity protocols mandates change in many areas, and VIP Lounges are included.

Non Smoking

“The Old Days” – smoke anywhere you want.

“The New Normal” – can’t smoke here, or there, or there…  Get ready for more than half of the country’s casinos to increase non-smoking or go full non-smoking after the pandemic.

The Draw

We need to take a step back. Try to understand the big picture of an industry treading water. Soften your expectations. There is a lot going on along with Layoffs and the New Normal in New England Casinos

But, most important, be kind and patient to casino staff and each other.