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Hollywood folds on 160 folks
Written by Erika Schmidt Russell   
Wednesday, September 05, 2012 8:32 PM

As Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati nears its opening next year, Hollywood Casino is taking steps in advance of projected attendance drops.

The Lawrenceburg casino is laying off 160 employees, which started this week. After the reductions there will be about 1,400 employees at Hollywood Casino.
Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Ernest Yelton said there is an unofficial policy casinos are supposed to notify the commission prior to any mass layoffs.

“They did give us notice about 10 days ago,” said Yelton.

The commission does not approve or disapprove the layoffs, but “if we see something that might jeopardize operation, then we make comments. It’s our understanding it is in anticipation of competition in Ohio. No one likes to see a reduction in force, especially now, but sometimes businesses have to make these decisions. Hollywood is bracing for competition in Cincinnati,” he said.

Hollywood General Manager Joe Hasson said the layoffs come “in the wake of the continued softness in consumer spending and the expansion and evolution of the gaming industry throughout Ohio.”

People laid off  in Lawrenceburg will “receive first consideration in applying for any new positions that become available in Lawrenceburg or elsewhere at Penn National Gaming casinos,” said Hasson.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development Rapid Response Team is working with the casino to help laid off workers, said IDWD spokesman Joe Frank.

Based on the casino’s size it only must issue a notice if the reduction is 33 or more percent of its workforce, said Frank.

As the layoffs at the casino continue, construction has yet to begin on the event center in downtown Lawrenceburg at Walnut and West High streets. According to sources with the City of Lawrenceburg there have been issues with Corps of Engineers approval as well as other contract agreements.

The Corps issues appear to have been resolved with a premit granted for the utility work and another permit for the actual event center pending approval, said a source with the city, adding Hollywood has indicated it hopes the event center can be expedited to attract and cross-market/promote the casino in Columbus, Ohio, and the Lawrenceburg casino.

Yelton said Hollywood is staking its hopes on the event center helping it retain and attract patrons.