Slots facility to reorganize; layoffs possible

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 07, 2008, at 6:35 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Maine’s only gaming facility is reorganizing staff in hopes of improving its financial picture in an increasingly weak economy, a process that could result in layoffs, a spokeswoman said this week.

Amy Kenney, director of marketing and public relations for Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway, characterized the recent decisions as a “reallocation of staff,” and stressed that discussions are continuing.

“We’re moving some folks that may be in departments with too many people to departments that have too few,” she said. “Obviously, our goal is not to have layoffs, and we can say that very few people will be leaving.”

Hollywood Slots is owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company that operates several facilities throughout the country. It wasn’t clear whether any of those facilities are looking at laying off employees. Eric Shippers, Penn National’s vice president, did not return a call Friday for comment.

Other New England casinos are struggling as well. Mohegan Sun in Connecticut halted construction of a new hotel recently. Foxwoods, also in Connecticut, laid off 700 people last month. Maine’s Gambling Control Board also determined last month that the economy has significantly affected gambling revenue in the state, although Hollywood Slots offered no specific numbers.

Grant Pennoyer, director of the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review, said last month it is clear that revenues need to be reprojected down for the racino, but by how much is not clear. The panel has drafted a first estimate that revenues from the racino will be down $3.6 million this year and that revenues for the two-year budget cycle should be reduced by about $4.5 million a year. He said committee members used actual data on how much is being bet on average at each slot machine at Hollywood Slots to project revenues.

“They nearly reached $3,500 a machine in that first week. That was phenomenal,” he said. “We are now seeing that in the $1,800 [per] machine area.”

The Bangor racino has altered its hours recently to cut costs. The facility used to remain open until 4 a.m. most nights, but now is open only until 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

“It’s fair to say with the economy being what it is, we’re watching our finances,” Kenney said. “All businesses are feeling it and, like many others, we look forward to an upswing in the economy.”

Hollywood Slots employs about 500 people, a mixture of full- and part-time staffers, and it’s not clear who would be affected by any potential layoffs. The new facility on Main Street has been open since July. Before that, slots were available at a temporary location beginning in late 2005.

Kenney said the new hotel, which has been open only a short time, has seen its business pick up.

“We’re at or near capacity on the weekends,” she said. “And we have a great conference space that’s generating interest. We have a number of holiday parties scheduled already.”

As for the recent financial struggles, Kenney said she’s proud of the ways things have been handled in a difficult time.

“Any good business has to adapt,” she said. “Our product is slots, yes, but it’s also guest service. So our ultimate goal is to keep an eye and ear on what guests say and alter our product to suit them.”

Some changes, she admitted, are nonstarters.

“One of the big things we hear is: Why are we unable to comp drinks?” she said. “But those regulations are set for us. Some things we can’t change.”

Mal Leary of Capitol News Service contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/11/07/business/slots-facility-to-reorganize-layoffs-possible/ printed on April 18, 2014