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Arnold M. Knightly

Station Casinos, International Game Technology plan layoffs

14 November 2008

and Arnold Knightly

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Station Casinos is laying off 40 workers who take reservations for the company's hotels and will begin outsourcing the work to an overseas company in early December, a company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Meanwhile, slot machine giant International Game Technology began implementing a previously announced staffing reduction that will eliminate roughly 10 percent of the company's work force.

The Station Casinos workers, who take reservations for all 11 of the company's hotels, will leave Dec. 8 but were given six weeks notice.

Company spokeswoman Lori Nelson said the layoffs were being made for operational reasons and were unrelated to the current downturn in the economy.

"It was based on the most effective way to manage our reservation call-system needs," Nelson said.

Nelson said the company is working to find the workers positions at other Station Casinos properties or other companies.

"We're also allowing them time within their shifts to interview outside or inside our company," Nelson said. "We're being as flexible as possible."

Any worker who has not found a new position by Dec. 8 will receive 30 days salary.

The decision to move the reservations work overseas is part of an overall review of the company's expenses that is expected to reduce costs annually by $100 million.

At IGT, spokesman Ed Rogich said fewer than 500 employees of the company's 5,400-person work force will have their jobs eliminated. About 40 percent of the affected workers accepted a voluntary retirement package. Employees who are part of the job reduction plan were being notified Thursday and today.

IGT workers who lose their jobs this week will remain on the company payroll until Jan. 4 but will be furloughed, meaning they won't have to come to work. Severance packages will take effect after Jan. 4.

"We're trying to do this as humanely as possible so people will be paid through the holidays," Rogich said.

During the company's recent quarterly earnings conference call, IGT Chairman and CEO TJ Matthews said the work-force reduction was just one area the company was exploring for cutting back and reducing expenses.

Matthews said the 2008 fiscal year had been the most challenging in the company's history. The sour economy has forced many casino companies to reduce expenses, including cutting back on purchasing new gaming equipment.

IGT's revenues in 2008 fell almost 5 percent.

Shares of IGT, which have fallen more than 75 percent this year, closed Thursday at $11.12 on the New York Stock Exchange, up 65 cents, or 6.21 percent.