As with virtually all businesses around the world, William Hill U.S. is feeling the impact from the global shutdown caused by the coronavirus. The sports gambling company has already been forced to temporarily lay off over 600 of its employees and close a number of operations in order to prevent the company from sinking further, and CEO Joe Asher is stepping up to try to offer additional assistance to the firm’s workforce. He has established a new employee fund and is donating his entire salary in order to provide economic relief to the workers who are now struggling to make ends meet.
Sports gambling was pushed to the front lines in the U.S. when, in 2018, the Supreme Court rightfully told legislators that they were flat out wrong for having approved the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). That bill had prevented individual states from getting involved in the multibillion-dollar sports gambling industry, but its reversal opened the doors to a new industry in the country. Within 18 months, a number of states had begun to legalize sportsbooks and sports betting, and casinos and gambling operators began shelling out millions of dollars to get involved. Then, COVID-19 came along.
The virus has brought the entire gambling world to almost a complete halt, and all of the entities that had just launched their operations are now in dire straits. It’s an unfortunate predicament to be in, but companies are forced with an option – either let workers take temporary breaks or shut down completely.
The latter option is not feasible for most companies, William Hill U.S. included. So, it did the only thing it could do and sent employees home. Now, Asher wants to do what he can to help those who were helping him build the company, and set up the William Hill Foundation in an effort to offer financial assistance to those employees hit the hardest by the layoffs. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week, “I didn’t feel right about continuing to get paid while so many people were out of work. So, I just decided to donate all of my salary to the foundation and encourage everybody else in the company who’s still working to donate what they can.”
To get the fund going, Asher deposited his entire salary for this year. Other company employees can contribute, as well, and the executive is confident that many of William Hill’s staff will answer the call.
Many companies in the gambling space are looking at ways to drastically reduce expenses to remain afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some executives are going about it in a way that still benefits the upper echelon of the company food chain, while others are willing to simply step back and put company interests above their own.
The president and CEO of Everi Holdings, Michael Rumbolz, is also slashing his pay in order to slow financial losses. He announced this past Tuesday that he will take no salary for the rest of the year, and that the executive team will have its pay reduced by 70%, as well. Rumbolz explained, “With essentially all revenue and the associated workload having been reduced to near zero and limited visibility as to when our customers may reopen for business, we have taken decisive actions appropriate for the current level of business and to prepare our Company to withstand a potentially prolonged period of minimal industry activity.”