Grand Villa Casino cutting back hours amid staff layoffs, slumping business
The Grand Villa Casino in downtown Edmonton is cutting its hours and staff amid slumping business.
"Over the past three years, the lack of surface parking, delays in the residential and hospitality projects in the downtown core, delays in the LRT completion and ongoing road closures has made it extremely difficult for customers to visit us," Gateway Casinos said in a written statement to CTV News Edmonton.
The company also blames a weak economy for having to change its operations.
"We examined all options and despite our best efforts to minimize the impact on our employees these changes are necessary if we are to be successful in the years to come."
The casino's operating hours will be reduced to being open between noon and 1 a.m. from Thursday to Sunday as well as during all major events at Rogers Place, effective Sept. 15.
The union that represents casino workers says the number of full-time, unionized positions is being cut by 50, from 83 down to 33 positions, not including management.
"What they're telling us is it's just Grand Villa that's not doing that well:" said Michael Hughes, with the United Food and Commercial Workers 401
The union expects an additional 50 to 60 part-time employees to be laid off as well.
"We were blindsided by it," said Hughes, adding the union had been in negotiation for a new agreement three months ago.
"Our members had voted to accept some concessions with the understanding that this would be them doing their part to help the company turn things around, and just a few months later, we're contacted by the company and on very short notice are told the casino will be undergoing some significant changes."
Layoffs affect all areas of the casino, and restaurants Sbarro, Vera's and Pinkberry are also closing.
The casino opened in September of 2016 as a replacement for the since shuttered Baccarat Casino.
Ward 6 Coun. Scott McKeen says he understands the casino's struggle, especially when most other casinos offer large, free parking lots.
"It's not good news for the entire district because we want to see lots of people in and around thta area enjoying the amenities," he said.
Gateway says the changes are temporary, something McKeen hopes is true.
"A year or two or five from now, all things being equal, that they'll be doing just fine," said McKeen.
With files from Jeremy Thompson