NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – Just four months after opening a major expansion, the owners of the Foxwoods Resort Casino announced plans Tuesday to cut about 6 percent of their work force because of the weak economy.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which employs nearly 11,000 workers at Foxwoods, said the 700 job cuts will be in addition to just under 200 announced in June and will come over the next few weeks.

They will affect management and staff positions across the board, tribal officials said. Each affected employee will receive medical benefits and two weeks pay for each year of service up to 26 weeks total, tribal officials said.

Michael Thomas, the trial council chairman, says the weak economy has hurt the casino’s revenue.

“Although it has taken a few months, the recession’s impact can now be clearly seen in our industry,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, the time has arrived when we must face the difficult decision and align our payroll costs with current revenue levels.”

The decision of the tribal council is designed to ensure the health and vibrancy of the tribe and its businesses for the long term, Thomas said.

In May, Foxwoods opened its MGM Grand expansion. The 30-story, two-million-square-foot property includes a new casino, hotel, a 4,000-seat performing arts theater, restaurants run by celebrity chefs, luxury stores, the largest ballroom in the Northeast and new convention space to accommodate thousands.

Last week, the state’s other tribal casino, the Mohegan Sun in nearby Uncasville, announced they were delaying the final projects in its $925 million expansion plan because of economic concerns.

The Mohegan Tribal Council decided to suspend construction of a 39-story hotel, a House of Blues music hall, a spa and additional retail and restaurant space, which were to be completed by the fall of 2010. The remaining parts of the expansion, which have a budget of about $734 million, will be delayed a least a year and re-evaluated.

Mohegan Sun has cut 500 to 600 jobs through attrition over the past year, but there are no plans for layoffs, according to Mitchell Etess, president and chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority,

In August, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods reported decreases in their July slot machine revenue, continuing a slump they blame on patrons’ concerns about the weak economy and high gas prices.

Foxwoods posted a 3.2 percent decrease in slot machine income compared to July 2007, or about $2.4 million.

At Mohegan Sun, slots slipped about 14.6 percent. That was down $16.1 million from July 2007, when the casino hit an unprecedented high point as more than $1 billion flowed through its slot machines.

AP-ES-09-30-08 1701EDT


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