One of the largest gaming and hospitality operators in Canada, Gateway, has started layoffs at different facilities across the province of Ontario. The staff reductions come as part of the company’s strategy to maximize its efficiency, says a Gateway official, but according to a local labour union, the lost jobs are a result of the privatization of the gaming sector.
Recent media reports revealed that there have been layoffs at several Gateway casinos, including Casino Sault Ste. Marie and Gateway Casinos Sudbury. In an official written statement, Robert Mitchell, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, confirmed that the company had to “reduce staff” at several locations. On Monday, June 11, he explained that the reductions became necessary after Gateway was chosen as a primary service provider in the Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG) Gaming Bundles in the North and Southwest last year.
According to Mitchell, once the company gained control over the facilities, it reviewed their operations and introduced a large number of technological solutions. Among the technologies incorporated in the casinos were automated systems, upgraded security systems, accounting software, etc. In addition, the company had to reduce the operating hours at certain facilities. As a result, Gateway had to reduce the staff at several casinos, he says in the statement, without clarifying the number of reductions. Most employees agreed to voluntary exit incentive programs, others were reassigned, and the rest were laid off.
The company’s Director of Communications also points out that the people who were laid off would be able to apply for jobs at the planned new casinos in Sudbury, London, Chatham, North Bay and Kenora. These facilities would become operational within the next two years, but it becomes clear that Gateway’s former casino workers will need to compete with other applicants for the vacant positions. According to Mitchell, the gaming operator plans to invest more than half a billion dollars in the Ontario economy and to create over 1,000 new jobs across the province.
Privatization of Gaming Operations Led to Layoffs
On Monday, Canadian labour union Unifor released a statement, claiming that the layoffs are a direct result of the privatization of the gaming sector in Ontario. Unifor National President Jerry Dias said that the union had warned about OLG’s plan for modernization, which included bringing in private companies in the gaming and casino industry. According to him, the loss of jobs is a great example of the negative effects of the modernization on the employment in the area.
Gateway Casinos Sudbury announced that four full-time and three part-time workers would be laid off. Currently, a total of 40 people work in the Sudbury facility. But that is not all, as according to Dias, there are more layoffs at other Gateway casinos – six jobs at Gateway Casinos Dresden and another six at Gateway Casino Point Edward. The union, which is Canada’s largest organization of this kind in the gaming industry, is currently negotiating with the company so that the number of announced layoffs could be reduced.
Unifor also reminds that private casino operators, including Gateway, are required by the OLG to keep all employees for a period of one year after the acquisition of the gaming facility. This one-year obligation, however, ended in May and now, the company is free to announce staff reductions at any of its new casinos.