The Wind Creek Bethlehem was among the first properties to shut down its casino operation in Pennsylvania voluntarily, preceding the Control Board’s decision as well as a test revealing that a casino employee had been infected with the novel coronavirus.
Wind Creek Bethlehem Keeps Paying Staff Despite Casino Shutdown
As the coronavirus casino shutdowns continue to hurt the economy and businesses at large, some establishments are trying to do the right thing, with Wind Creek Bethlehem being no exception.
The Bethlehem casino might appear as a blip on the map, but it has a significant economic footprint with some 2,500 employees depending for their livelihoods on the casino. In light of this, the casino will be paying its employees through May 31, Wind Creek Hospitality casino owner Julia Corwin said in an official statement.
Corwin’s decision comes at the same time that the American Gaming Association (AGA) CEO Bill Miller has criticized regulatory guidelines issued on Friday, April 3 by the Small Business Administration’s payment protection program, arguing that:
Unless amended, these initial guidelines will irreparably harm one-third of the U.S. casino industry and the hundreds of thousands of Americans that rely on gaming businesses for their livelihood.AGA CEO Bill Miller
Wind Creek, however, has raised to the occasion, and particularly as it takes the important role of one of the largest employers in Northampton County. According to Corwin, Bethlehem needs to act and help the community to remain economically sustainable, paying workers for another two months as one of the planned measures.
Complying with Authorities and Helping Local and State Health Departments
Bethlehem was among the first properties to shut down all operations on March 15 and comply with governmental and regulatory measures. On March 15, the news broke that casino employees had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) issued a state-wide shutdown order on March 17, ordering all 12 casinos to bring their operations to a halt indefinitely. The move was backed by Gov. Tom Wolf who also ordered all non-essential to be suspended and for people to stay at home until March 25.
On March 27, two more employees had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, alerting health authorities to the spread of the illness in the Keystone State. For its part, Wind Creek has vowed to support local and state health departments.
Purchased for $1.3 billion by the Wind Creek Hospitality, the Bethlehem property is the second-largest casino property in the state.
Impact on the Casino Industry in the United States
Bethlehem is just one of the properties affected by the measures. However, unlike many other companies, Wind Creek has decided to keep staff on the payroll. The other casino operators to have done so include Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, both of which vowed to continue paying their employees through May 15.
Meanwhile, the lockdown of Nevada’s casinos has been extended until April 30. However, even if casinos are brought back online at the end of the month, NV Gov. Steve Sisolak has cautioned that a restart cannot happen overnight and it would be in phases.
Today, the entire casino industry in the United States is suspended indefinitely. Nevada alone has seen 66,000 employees affected, according to a forecast by The Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
In Atlantic City, New Jersey, some 16,000 casino employees have been furloughed as not all brands have taken to the crisis with the same readiness as Wind Creek, Las Vegas, or Wynn Resorts to “do the right thing.”