Layoffs Hit Foxwoods
Apparently, even those with the gambling jones are impacted by the recession and/or the high price of gasoline.
What else is there to make of Foxwoods' recent announcement that it has laid off 100-200 workers? (Information taken from an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.)
Meanwhile, the other Connecticut casino - Mohegan Sun - is cutting a similar number of positions through attrition.
Sure, both Foxwoods and Mohegan still employ upwards of 10,000 each, but this should come as a bit of a cautionary tale to those who believe that casino gambling is the big economic development panacea. There are plans in Massachusetts for a few "casino resorts", and trying to follow the debate and the local votes on location is enough to give you tennis neck. I have no idea where we are on any of these initiatives.
I can see that, from the building trades point of view, casinos are good news - especially with residential construction down. All those jobs on a big project that lasts a reasonably long while.
I can certainly understand why the Native Americans, who are the only ones in these parts allowed to run such gaming enterprises, are all over casinos. Instant riches and pay back for loss of life, loss of identity, and loss of land (except for some pretty crummy reservations).
I can understand why the folks who live in the somewhat remote backwoods of Connecticut casinos are located were happy to have the jobs in their area.
And of course, the states love the $$$. (In a May 17th article, The Economist reported that the $430.5M that the state took in from slot machines alone equaled more than half of the amount they take in from corporate taxes.) The article also noted that overall gambling revenues are down in Connecticut, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas. Thus the greater interest in making these place "resorts with gambling," not "gambling resorts."
Still, gambling on gambling to bolster your economy doesn't strike me as all that sensible or logical in the long run - especially given the diminishing returns. If Massachusetts opens a couple of casinos, surely they will cannibalize some of that Connecticut gaming revenue? (I've blogged on this before, including in this post on the attempts by Bethlehem PA to remake their steel mills.)
Meanwhile, Foxwoods has recently opened the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, a posh hotel and theater set up that has upcoming concerts with quite a peculiar mix: Trisha Yearwood, Joe Cocker, Kanye West, Carole King, Melissa Etheridge, Celtic Thunder, Carrie Underwood, Celine Dion, Bobby Vinton and Bob Dylan. (You just can't make this stuff up.) I guess they're trying to attract as many different demographic slices as they can - but are old lefty boomers who watched in shock as Dylan shifted from acoustic to electric at Newport in the wayback going to pay big bucks to stay in the MGM Grand to see Mr. Tambourine Man in a tuxedo? (That answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.) Does the crowd get warmed up by a comedian, or by the Limelighters or the Chad Mitchell Trio? Or maybe those who only know Dylan through his corporate gigs, or his shilling for Victoria's Secret, will show up. For all they know, he's a lounge act.
The Grand opened in May, and the show-biz guests (and I'm guessing they truly were guests, and not paying ones) included John Mayer, Alicia Keyes, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
I don't know about anyone else, but I don't imagine Michael and Catherine are going to be hanging around Foxwoods with any regularity, although - if I ever do get there - I hope to see them at the quarter slots, amid the pensioners dragging their oxygen rigs.
I actually wouldn't recognize John Mayer unless he has Jennifer Aniston in tow.
And as for Sean Combs, I've already seen him up close and personal, in 2004 in the corridor of the Democratic National Convention. In truth, I didn't really know the difference between P Diddy and Puff Daddy at that point, but my friend Michele was able to explain to me that they were one and the same. We were there in the rafters to watch Kerry's acceptance speech. At least Michele and I were. P Diddy/Puff Daddy presumably had better seats than we did.