NICHOLS, NY – Despite being ready to reopen, Tioga Downs Casino Resort is in a difficult spot regarding it’s employees.
Most of the workers at the casino have been furloughed since mid-March.
However, according to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, any employee that has been temporarily laid off or furloughed must be brought back within six months or they will be terminated.
Jeff Gural, owner of both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, has already had to notify his nearly 900 employees that they would be let go at the end of September if they can’t reopen before that time.
That means the clock is ticking when it comes to Governor Cuomo giving casinos the green light to reopen.
Amidst understanding and frustration regarding the governor’s pace, Gural expressed his feelings upon notifying his employees of the pending termination.
“Horrible. I mean, I was shocked when I was told I had to send the WARN notices because I don’t want to scare my employees. But, the law’s clear that at the end of six months, they’re all automatically terminated. I would think, if (Governor Cuomo) not going to let us open soon, then maybe he just wants to wait until there’s a vaccine. So, it would be catastrophic for the community, catastrophic financially. I would think that all of the upstate casinos would go bankrupt,” says Gural.
Gural also expressed the importance of reopening due to many would-be customers heading to casinos elsewhere.
He believes that allowing those people to travel to other casinos in higher risk areas could increase the chances of them contracting, and then spreading, the virus around the Southern Tier.