Hobart’s Wrest Point casino is among the businesses owned by Federal Group. (Instagram/tassiegrammer)
Gaming business Federal Group says it will not have jobs for about 1,500 of its 1,930 Tasmanian workers because of restrictions on the operation of hotels and casinos introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
- The Federal Group owns Hobart’s Wrest Point casino, as well as a string of hotels and restaurants
- It said some of its accommodation businesses would stay open, though they did not expect many guests, as well as its bottle shop business
- A company spokesman called for greater government support for the hospitality industry
Company spokesman Daniel Hanna described the challenges facing the company as the worst since World War II and conceded the scale of the stand-downs was “shocking”
He said permanent and casual employees would be affected and that government restrictions had “forced our hand”.
He added that staff would remain employed and would be allowed to access leave while venues were shut.
Federal Group is the largest private sector employer in Tasmania.
Venues which are being forced to shut their doors include pubs, the Henry Jones Art Hotel in Salamanca, restaurants, and the gaming facilities at the Wrest Point Casino in Sandy Bay.
“The people affected will live in every community in our state,” Mr Hanna said.
“We want to keep a connection with those people and hopefully when this crisis is over … those people are going to be part of our future, help our industry and our state to rebuild itself.”
The Macq01 hotel, Saffire hotel, 9/11 bottle shop chain stores and the COPE Sensitive Freight business will continue normal operations, protecting the jobs of about 400 Tasmanian staff who will nonetheless face changed work conditions.
Staff will have access to counselling services, and Mr Hanna said Federal Group hoped to help affected employees move to other work.
He said the company had also been in contact with the Federal Government to try to get Centrelink services on-site.
Mr Hanna called for greater government support for hospitality and tourism businesses, which he said were “bearing the brunt” of coronavirus restrictions.
“We don’t want to dwell on whether the restrictions that have been put in place are the right call or not, I guess only history will be able to point to that,” Mr Hanna said.
“We’re bearing the brunt of a lot of these restrictions and we are such a critical part of the economy, we employ so many Tasmanians and indeed many Australians.”
The company announced last week it would switch off every second poker machine in its venues to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Documents filed with the Australian Securities Investment last year showed Federal Group enjoyed an after-tax profit of $17 million last financial year, paying its owners, the Farrell family, a $12.5 million dividend.
It employed 2,478 people, paid $54 million in gaming taxes and owned 89 Arabian horses worth $994,000.
Federal Group bills itself as Australia’s oldest continually operating hotel group, with Wrest Point the first operational casino in Australia.
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