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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

IGT Employees Affected by Hurricane

9 September 2005

MISSISSIPPI -- International Game Technology's 100 Gulf Coast employees were affected more by Hurricane Katrina than was the company's equipment, Chairman TJ Matthews said.

The Reno-based company's gaming operations monitoring sites in Gulfport, Miss., and New Orleans were shut down due to storm and flood damage. But less than half of the 2,300 gaming machines the company owned and operated in the region were directly affected by the disaster, Matthews said late Wednesday.

The monitoring sites house the central computer servers in the company's progressive jackpots systems, such as Megabucks. IGT said it was seeking emergency approval for alternative monitoring sites that could operate by the end of September.

IGT Chairman TJ Matthews said the immediate concern is with the company's staff members in the area, many of whom suffered damage to homes and personal property.

"We have now accounted for all 100 of our Gulf Coast area employees and are thankful that none of them was injured," Matthews said. "Our focus is now on providing immediate assistance to our employees and their families, who are dealing with the aftermath of this disaster."

IGT is donating $1 million to assist the relief efforts and has established an IGT Employee Relief Program to assist affected employees. IGT plans on matching dollars that company employees contribute to the program or the American Red Cross.

IGT said about 900 company slot machines were knocked out of commission by the hurricane. The balance were in casinos that were either unaffected by the hurricane or have since reopened. However, approximately 700 machines are still inoperable due to the destroyed monitoring sites. Another 700 slot machines are operating as stand-alone or at American Indian casinos.

The company had expected in fiscal 2006 to sell 1,000 to 2,000 slot machines to Gulf Coast casinos affected by Katrina. The company said the sales are now on "indefinite hold" until those casinos reopen.

The company estimated book value of slot machines and assets in the affected area at about $10 million.

Company shares closed Thursday down 45 cents, or 1.64 percent, at $26.88.

IGT joined a growing list of gaming companies, including Harrah's and Pinnacle Entertainment, providing assistance for employees in the devastated Gulf Coast. MGM Mirage has said it would pay full salary and benefits to the 3,400 employees of the Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi until Dec. 6.

The company has also created a fund to help with the recovery efforts, seeding it with $1 million and saying it will match employee contributions dollar for dollar.

Mirage Resorts President Bobby Baldwin said the company has invested $800 million into Beau Rivage and the rebuilding efforts will bring that total to above $1 billion.

"Massive numbers of man-hours and labor will be required to restore Beau Rivage and the Biloxi area in general," Baldwin said. "We plan to utilize Beau Rivage employees wherever possible."

IGT Employees Affected by Hurricane is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.