Grand Villa Casino Edmonton ‘Temporarily’ Open Only Four Days a Week
Grand Villa Casino Edmonton is cutting back its gaming floor hours to four days a week due to a “weak economy” and inadequate transportation infrastructure in the Canadian city, according to a company statement.
The 60,000-square-foot casino had been operating daily since opening in 2016 with a 10 am to 3 am schedule, news reports said. The reduction in hours is temporary but was needed because of the “current volume of business,” the company explained in a statement.
We need to make this change while we wait for the downtown redevelopment to reach its full potential,” Tanya Gabara, director of public relations for the casino, said in a statement to Casino.org.
“Over the past three years, the lack of surface parking, delays in the residential and hospitality projects in the downtown core, delays in the LRT [Edmonton Light Rail Transit] completion and ongoing road closures has made it extremely difficult for customers to visit us,” she added. “These factors along with a weak economy have resulted in a need to change our operations.”
As of Sept. 15, the casino will be open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 1 am. It also will be open during major events and concerts at nearby Rogers Place — a hockey and entertainment venue.
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment opened Grand Villa in September 2016 as part of the first phase of the ICE district. The mixed-use and entertainment district is in downtown Edmonton.
The reduction in hours is also leading to employee layoffs. The company said it was uncertain how many employees will leave — but the Edmonton Journal reported the change in hours will impact some 50 full-time employees.
The estimate was provided by the union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, representing workers at the property. The newspaper estimates that means a reduction from 83 to 33 full-time employees either at the casino or associated venues, like restaurants.
There are also 50–60 additional part-time employees who may lose their current jobs, the report said. Beyond that, employees who work in management and other jobs not represented by the union could be impacted, too.
A union spokesman, Michael Hughes, told the Journal, “There’s a huge amount of frustration on the part of employees. There’s a strong lack of trust. They feel they’ve been doing their job and they’re waiting for management to start doing theirs.”
Hughes overall blamed management for the situation at the casino. But the company says it has worked with the union to come up with alternatives.
“We examined all options and despite our best efforts to minimize the impact on our employees these changes are necessary if we are to be successful in the years to come,” Gabara said. “We have worked with the union to negotiate a workforce adjustment agreement for [the Grand Villa] that will minimize the impact to our employees, which has been mutually agreed to by the employer and the union.”
Some employees may take a voluntary separation package, take a job at another Edmonton casino also operated by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, or change to a part-time schedule, the company said.
The union said its members approved concessions earlier this year. But now union members apparently complain they were blindsided with the layoffs.
When asked for comment on the layoffs and reduced hours, Edmonton Ward 6 Council Member Scott McKeen told CTV News that “it’s not good news for the entire district because we want to see lots of people in and around that area enjoying the amenities.” He predicts that within one to five years, the casino should be “doing just fine.”
In Ontario, earlier in the summer, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment laid off employees at Casino Rama. Gateway operates that venue which is on the property of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.
Gateway has 27 gaming properties in British Columbia, Ontario and Edmonton. Last month, it announced that the company is the casino partner with the NFL in Canada.
US Casino Layoffs
Layoffs are seen elsewhere in the gaming sector. In Nevada, MGM Resorts International announced earlier this year that 1,033 positions were eliminated.
In June, the Shoshone Rose Casino and Hotel in Lander, Wyoming said it was going to lay off between 15 and 20 employees. The gaming area is to be shuttered for part of the night Sunday through Thursday.
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