early all 1,300 workers at Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack & Hotel in Altoona, Iowa were told last weekend they will be laid off starting May 3, after weeks of being shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A release from the casino states that they announced the information to employees last week. The company will layoff a total of 1,130 employees. 73 employees will stay on to oversee management, preservation and maintenance of the facility during the shutdown period, as reported by We Are Iowa. The Prairie Meadows Board of Directors and executive team directed the property to close on March 16.
Before the shutdown, a compensation plan was adopted to pay and provide benefits to employees through April 16, and it was extended to May 2. Prairie Meadows said they will "be extending benefits to all eligible employees affected by the layoff" through July 31.
“The health and well-being of our employees, our community, and Prairie Meadows remain our top priorities," Prairie Meadows President & CEO Gary Palmer said in a statement. "We want to continue assisting our employees as they navigate these difficult and challenging times.
“Teamwork and support of each other continues to be at our core of operation,” Palmer added. “We are optimistic and hopeful for the future.”
Furthermore, the Iowa Gaming Association said the governor could reopen casinos in the next couple of weeks. "We'll have to open slowly," said Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association, KMTV reports. "We don't expect everybody to come back quickly, but we also have to give everybody the assurances, not only for the patrons but as well as our staff."
There are three casinos in Council Bluffs and one in Carter Lake. State officials say all will have to make adjustments to maintain social distancing when they reopen.