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450-plus Indian casino jobs slashed

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. – More than 450 Indian casino employees have been laid off here as a result of the economic and gaming industry downturn, casino officials said.

Beginning in August, the Pechanga Casino, Riverside County’s second largest employer, began to lay off 368 workers, about 8 percent of their total workforce. That was followed by Morongo Casino’s announcement in the first week of November that they were laying off 95 casino workers, totaling 463 jobs in an area with a dozen Indian casinos.

“It is unfortunate that we have to reduce the work force, but the economy shows no immediate signs of improvement,” Dual Cooper, the Morongo casino’s general manager said in a press release. “We hope to be able to recall employees as conditions improve.”

The Morongo layoffs include dealers and table game operators, said Morongo Casino Spokesman Spence Johnston.
Amy Minniear, president of the Pechanga Development Corporation, had a similar explanation.

“For months, we have resisted the pressure to lay team members off; but because of the prolonged economic downturn, we must downsize in order to adjust to the current market conditions and position ourselves for success once the economy recovers,” she said in a statement.

Minniear said the casino was working on a comprehensive severance package, including outplacement services, for affected employees.

Morongo employees are receiving severance packages and will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Not all Indian casinos in Southern California are experiencing cutbacks of employees. The San Manuel Casino in San Bernardino County has escaped such cuts.

“We have not had any, not expecting any and nothing is in the works. We’ve been fortunate that we have been able to keep up with the times,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indian spokesman Jacob Coin.