Foxwoods advises employees of downsizing

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Foxwoods Resort Casino informed employees Wednesday of impending job cuts, though Scott Butera, president and chief executive officer, offered no specifics about the number of workers who would be let go.

Butera, in a phone interview, said "no particular number" of staff reductions was being sought.

"It's fairly modest," he said. "We don't anticipate any drop off in service. It's about streamlining and becoming more efficient."

He declined further comment.

In a memo to employees, a copy of which The Day obtained, Butera said the casino must adjust to the ongoing decline in its business.

"Regretfully, the economic conditions which are affecting the national economy as well as the gaming industry in general are also impacting Foxwoods," he says. "Despite our vigorous efforts, our business, which has suffered a decline over the last few years, has yet to recover.

"... Senior management has made the difficult but necessary decision to institute a reorganization plan which will affect a number of Team Members, many of which will be voluntary."

Foxwoods management refers to employees as team members.

Butera's memo says management will provide information to departments affected by the reorganization by next Wednesday. The reorganization is to be completed by April 6.

According to the memo, employees whose jobs are eliminated will be able to apply for vacant positions within the company. The displaced who have not been offered another job will qualify for severance benefits consisting of two weeks' pay for every full year of service up to 26 weeks. During that period, medical benefits will continue through the last day of the month in which the severance payments end.

Severance packages already have been offered to table-games dealers and those who supervise them, according to sources.

In the memo, Butera refers to the debt-restructuring efforts of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods, including MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

"It is important to note that we are close to completing our financial restructuring and are confident that Foxwoods will remain the region's premier gaming resort and will be better positioned to attract more business to the benefit of all of our Team Members," he says.

Butera has been involved in the tribe's efforts to restructure $2.2 billion in debt since his arrival in 2011.

Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, the region's other tribally owned casino, have experienced steep revenue declines amid the Great Recession and increasing competition from gaming facilities in other states.

Less than two weeks ago, Foxwoods reported its slot-machine revenue for January was down 12.1 percent over the same month in 2012, its fifth straight month of double-digit declines. Its January slots "win" — the amount it kept from wagers after paying out prizes — was the lowest of any month since December 1996.

Foxwoods' workforce numbers about 8,000, down from more than 10,000 several years ago. The casino has not announced major layoffs since letting go some 700 workers in October 2008.

Mohegan Sun laid off about 330 employees last September.


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