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Billionaire Fertitta Furloughs 40,000 Workers at Casino, Restaurant Empire


Billionaire Tilman Fertitta said he’s had to temporarily lay off roughly 40,000 workers at his casino, hotel and restaurant empire to limit the economic damage caused by government-imposed shut-downs.

The Texas native, who owns the Golden Nugget casinos as well as hundreds of restaurants including Del Frisco’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp under the Landry’s Inc. umbrella, is calling on the authorities to allow businesses to reopen at limited capacity in a couple of weeks to avoid economic disaster.
“I think what we are doing with the shut-down is good but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” Fertitta said in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. “Otherwise you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”

He said restaurants and casinos could be allowed to operate at 30% to 40% of capacity to soften the economic impact of the restrictions and allow companies to stay in business.

Fertitta’s companies have furloughed about 70% of their employees in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has halted travel and large gatherings around the world.

‘Have to Survive’

The owner of the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets said he has been talking with banks about potentially raising as much as $200 million of additional liquidity “as a little bit of insurance.”

Still, he’s confident his businesses have access to enough cash to ride out the current volatility and he’s even considering buying back some of Golden Nugget’s debt when things begin to rebound.

”As soon as I see us making the turn and everything is going to reopen we are
100% going to buy back our debt,” he said. “I see that as a great opportunity.”

For now, all of Fertitta’s casinos have been ordered to shut and even the restaurants that are operating by offering take-out are only bringing in 4% to 5% of their typical business. His company has been burning through a few million dollars of cash per day, he added.

“We are doing basically no business,” Fertitta said. “I want to hire every employee back. This is very hard on a lot of working families but we have to survive or there is no company.”