13 Jul Navajo Nation Gaming 1,200 Team Members Remain Employed Despite Extended Closure
Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Prioritizes Safety, While Employees Maintain Financial Stability
Flagstaff, Ariz. – While other casinos have been forced to lay off hundreds of team members*, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (Navajo Nation Gaming) continues to keep 1,200 team members employed – 85% of whom are Navajo Nation Tribal members – since the closure of four Navajo Nation Casino properties on March 17: Twin Arrows Casino Hotel and Resort near Flagstaff, AZ; Fire Rock Casino in Church Rock, NM; Northern Edge Casino in Farmington, NM; and Flowing Water Casino in Shiprock, NM.
“During this closure we continue to keep our team members on the payroll, so they can provide for their families and maintain health care benefits,” stated Brian Parrish, Interim CEO Navajo Nation Gaming. “This allows them to continue in helping stabilize their families and communities throughout this pandemic crisis.”
Navajo Nation Gaming is unique among major gaming companies in that it has continued to pay salaries and benefits for all employees without interruption throughout the closure while some properties have furloughed their team members. **Las Vegas giant MGM furloughed 63,000 employees, Caesars Entertainment furloughed 90% of its domestic workforce on April 2. Both companies paid a 2-week severance and extended health care coverage for employees. Similarly, Penn National Gaming, a major regional casino operator laid off 26,000 employees in April.
“The Navajo Nation Gaming Board of Directors stand with our employees through this challenging period,” noted Chairman of the Board Quincy Natay. “The financial strain on the Gaming Enterprise has been severe, but we continue to believe taking care of our employees must be our focus. The pressures and worries from the pandemic are already affecting our people, we couldn’t add to their burden by instituting layoffs, unless there was no other option,” he stated.
While unemployment rates are traditionally in the double-digits on the Navajo Nation, Parrish stated that he was proud to be part of an organization that cares deeply for its employees, despite the fact that those payments, coupled with the closure of the facilities, have exhausted the enterprise’s cash reserves. “We entered the pandemic in an extremely strong financial position, attributed by outstanding performances of our dedicated team members. However, the enterprise has exhausted its cash reserves and we’re in desperate need of reimbursement of our expenses through the federal CARES Act,” he commented.
As Parrish shared stories of team member expressing gratitude for being able to stay home and take care of their families, he stated that it would not have been possible without the Navajo Nation leadership, “We’ve worked in partnership with President Nez, Vice President Lizer and the 24th Navajo Nation Council to support all business closures to protect the Navajo people. Nothing is more important to our Enterprise than the safety of our guests, employees and vendors.”
“We continue to live by our values and mission statement during these unprecedented times. We did not send our team members to the unemployment lines as many other casinos have done,” mentioned Quincy Natay, Chairman Navajo Gaming Board of Directors.
The Navajo Gaming casinos are scheduled to open to the general public on July 28 with best-in-class safety, cleaning and sanitizing protocols. Navajo Gaming was the first casino group to close in the region, and it appears to be the last to reopen.
Navajo Gaming is one of many Navajo Nation-owned and operated enterprises that is charged with the mission of creating jobs, increasing revenues and stimulating incremental economic development. To learn more visit www.NavajoGaming.com
* Tesuque Casino Lays off 180 Employees https://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2020/04/17/casino-to-furlough-180-workers-due-to-covid-19.html
Thousands laid off at Tribal Casinos https://www.pressherald.com/2020/05/10/shutdown-of-tribal-casinos-deals-blow-to-indian-country/
**According to CDC Gaming Reports, Inc.,