President Casino shutting down in October - Friday 12th of August 2005

Hundreds of workers at President Casino learned this week that their jobs will end in October, months earlier than they had expected.

Of the more than 700 people who work at the casino, only 62 will be retained.

Some of the workers who received termination notices said they felt misled. They knew they would be without work when the gambling barges new owner, Silver Slipper, moved it to a new location in

Hancock County, but they didnt know it would be so soon.

John Ferrucci, chief operating officer of Silver Slipper, said the timetable was changed because of tidal flows. Engineers told casino officials that tidal charts indicate a four-day period in early November would be the best time to move the barge.

"If we miss that window of opportunity, we may not be able to move the barge out before the end of the year," Ferrucci said. "We chose to target that date to start our journey, which would mean ceasing operations here at the President Casino sometime between Oct. 15 and Oct. 30."

Federal law requires that the casino give its employees 60-day notice of job loss.

"There will be one core group," Ferrucci said. "The transition team is a total of 62 people who will stay on board to get everything ready. Then we will start the rehiring process around the end of December. Of course, were giving priority consideration to any of the President employees who stayed with us until the end and choose to rejoin us in Hancock County. We will keep their applications separate from people on the street."

Construction crews have to dislodge the barge from its moorings, secure it for the move and dredge at both locations.

The casino company has received a permit from the Department of Marine Resources for the move and a clearance statement from NOAAs National Marine Fisheries Service. There had been concerns that the move could harm a threatened species of gulf sturgeon.

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