WYOMISSING, PA-Peter Carlino, chairman and CEO of locally based Penn National Gaming, has issued an update on activities to rebuild its two Mississippi casinos and addresses needs of the facilities’ employees. Of the nearly 2,000 employees at Casino Magic-Bay St. Louis and Boomtown Biloxi, 1,600 have been contacted through the company’s employee assistance hotline, he reports. For previous GlobeSt.com coverage of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on Penn National properties, click here.

“Both of our properties sustained extensive damage,” Carlino says in an open letter to employees. “And, while we are launching immediate clean-up efforts, the long-term picture of when these properties might once again be fully operational remains unclear.” Meanwhile, the owner is extending benefits and pay, including supplements to base pay for tipped employees, through Nov. 30.

The company offered to help with job placement at Argosy and other gaming companies and is keeping open “all available positions for those who are able and willing to relocate,” Carlino says in the letter, adding, “We’re also asking our properties for any and all assistance in providing temporary housing, food and clothing.”

A limited number of administrative jobs are available at temporary command centers at the two Mississippi casinos and the company says it will also help to place employees in jobs with the contractor it has hired for the cleanup. When the properties reopen, previous employees at those locations will be given the first opportunity to return “with seniority intact,” Carlino notes.

In addition, the owner has established Penn National Gaming Relief Fund to provide disaster relief and charitable outreach in communities where it operates. It made an initial $1-million donation and will accept donations from all Penn National and Argosy employees. The foundation will launch a program through which Penn National employees who were impacted by the storm can apply for financial assistance.

Penn National currently operates 11 facilities in nine jurisdictions. It is in the final stages of obtaining all the necessary approvals for completion of its acquisition of Argosy Gaming Co.

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