Aquis stands down staff from Canberra casino

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
view of Casino Canberra from the street

Aquis Entertainment’s deal with Blue Whale Entertainment was called off after the two gaming entities were negotiating for more than a year, until Aquis was forced to pull the deal off the table because Australian gaming regulators weren’t satisfied with the takeover.

Calvin Ayre reports that Aquis has taken a major hit after the shutdown of Australian casinos, cutting staff and salaries and letting go of 90 per cent of its workforce.

A week ago, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued an order to all public venues such as bars, restaurants and casinos to shut down for “up to six months”.

Aquis, which is behind Casino Canberra diligently followed instructions, but without damage to its international operations.

Of the 235 employees working for the company, 190 are already on a forced vacation, and another 20 are soon to be let go.

In an Australian Securities Exchange filing, Aquis explains, “The Casino Canberra operations ceased prior to 12 noon on Monday, 23 March 2020.

“As a result, the company has made the very difficult but unavoidable decision to stand down approximately 90 per cent of our 235 employees.

“We have completed the initial stand down of approximately 190 operations employees and are currently in the process of standing down a further 20 employees following a controlled shut down of the property.”

Aquis doesn’t specify whether or not it plans on helping furloughed employees, as has been the case with some other casino operators forced into temporary hibernation.

It added that its chief executive Alison Gallaugher is going to take a 50 per cent pay cut from A$300,000 to A$150,000 and other executives are going to see a 48 per cent.

In addition, non-executive directors of the board will not collect any fees while the shutdown is in place.

Gallaugher added in the statement: “This will likely be the toughest challenge that any of our employees have faced in their lifetimes.

“The executive team is committed and devoted to this business and will do our very best to bring the company through this shut down and then rebuild it for our team and patrons.”

Star stands down 90 per cent of its staff

The Star Entertainment Group has been forced to stand down 90 per cent of its 9,000 strong workforce at its casinos on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney.

My GC reports that coronavirus is to blame for the stand down, with casinos, bars and restaurants shut.

The company’s hotels remain open, but in a reduced capacity.

In a statement to the ASX on Thursday, Star said the shutdown of casinos will have a “material impact on The Star’s operations.”

“Management is focused on implementing strategies to minimise impacts and conserve liquidity.

“These include materially lowering operating costs and reducing capital expenditure.

“The Star has taken a very difficult, but necessary decision in relation to its workforce.

“We are in the process of temporarily standing down more than 90 per cent of our approximately 9,000 employees. These stand downs include senior management.”

Employees who are stood down will be given two weeks of paid pandemic leave.

Staff will also be able to access any annual or long service leave they have accrued.

The Board and senior management will have their directors’ fees and salaries slashed with details of those arrangements to be finalised in coming days.

“The Star will continue to monitor developments in the coronavirus situation and the impacts on The Star’s business.

“At this time, we are unable to reliably advise of the impacts on financial performance due to the uncertain duration of the current circumstances.”

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