In several U.S. states, Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. is handing out cash bonuses to its employees to thank them for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jim Allen, chair and chief executive officer of the global casino, entertainment, and hospitality company said that “It’s important not to forget the job they’re doing during these difficult times. These are clearly challenging times and this is a way of showing our appreciation.” 

The CEO would not say exactly which employees will receive bonuses outside Atlantic City and Florida, nor did he mention what percentage of the payments are being received by the company’s worldwide workforce. The bonuses will exceed US$1 million in Atlantic City, split between 2,184 employees: 1,822 hourly employees will get $250 each, while 197 supervisors or salaried employees will get $500 each and 165 managers will get $1,000 each.

Simei Yu, a server at a restaurant at the Hard Rock who has been with the company since the casino opened in 2018 said that “I’m delighted. We take a lot of precautions. It definitely takes more time: more handwashing, more sanitization of everything. But we do it.”

Before the pandemic took hold, Hard Rock also gave out bonuses totaling $2 million last January to almost 2,900 workers in Atlantic City. Those bonuses were a reward for helping the company to reach its business goals for the year within 10 percent. The company didn’t come close to achieving those goals in 2020. Atlantic City’s casinos were closed for three-and-a-half months and continue to run under state-imposed restrictions at just 25 percent of capacity.

But Hard Rock did well in the months it was able to work, says Joe Lupo, the company’s Atlantic City president. In the fourth quarter of 2020, its combined table games and slot machine revenue was up 12.5 percent to $83.3 million. In this group, the other eight Atlantic City casinos were collectively down nearly 30 percent.

Employee bonuses were also announced last month by four casino companies operating in the Chinese enclave of Macao, including SJM Holdings Ltd., MGM China Holdings Ltd., Wynn Macau, and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.

Last year, companies in a large variety of other industries also gave out bonuses or raises to thank employees for continuing to work during the pandemic. Inc., Walmart Inc., Best Buy Co., Target Corp., Home Depot Inc., Hormel Foods Corp., and J.M. Smucker Co. are among them.

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