Mohegan Sun laid off 300 people this week as it continues to struggle in what its top executive called “a tough economy and tough times.”
Mitchell Etess, the chief executive officer for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said on the Lee Elci radio show Friday morning that the casino did everything it could to reduce expenses before resorting to layoffs that began Thursday night. About 300 employees from across the company are losing their jobs. CEO Jeffrey Hartmann, who has been with the casino for more than a decade, is also being replaced.
Etess said each laid off worker will receive 2 weeks severance for every year of service and health insurance will be maintained for the duration of their severance package. He said the casino did not want to reduce jobs – the second time it has done so in two years – but “we need to protect the jobs of the 6,400 who are still here.”
Etess said affected employees began being notified Thursday night around 6 p.m., and will continue to be notified as they report for their shifts. He said because of the casino’s round-the-clock scheduling, it can take up to two days to notify everyone involved.
“If you have been to work and gone home again and no one has spoken to you (about a layoff) then you are OK,” he said.
Etess said that the casino’s revenues have been declining for five straight years, and in fact the last six months have been worse than the six months before that. He said less discretionary spending for patrons, increased competition from new casinos in the great Northeast, and changes in gaming technology – like electronic table games – all contribute to the casino’s financial woes.
“Since last time (there were layoffs) things have continued to deteriorate,” he said. “The reality is the electronic table games have been wildly accepted – but it’s not just that. We are seeing decreases in Connecticut– Connecticut makes up 54 percent of our market – and we are down 8 percent. That’s the economy in Connecticut. Gaming is something people use discretionary money for , and people have less money, so they either come less or when they come they spend less. We had to adjust our labor force to meet the reality of the economy.”
Etess said Bobby Soper, who started at Mohegan Sun and then went to Pennsylvania to run the tribe’s Pocono Downs casino, will come back to Uncasville as Mohegan Sun CEO. He will work with COO Ray Pineault, Etess said: “Together they are a great team and they will take us into the future.”