Casino owner cashes in shares for out of work staff
The owner of The Ville Resort-Casino in Townsville has cashed in more than $10.5 million in shares to help cover the entitlements of 1500 staff, out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chris Morris, the entrepreneur who founded tech company Computershare and who owns the casino, Orpheus Island Resort and other North Queensland assets, reported the sale of a million of his 32,000,000 Computershare shares yesterday.
In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange Mr Morris said he sold a small part of his holding to provide liquidity for his hospitality and tourism related businesses forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The proceeds will support the ongoing fixed cost in these businesses, including annual and long service leave commitments for 1500 staff," Mr Morris said.
About 600 staff from The Ville Resort-Casino were stood down on March 23 after strict social distancing rules, introduced by the Federal Government to help control the spread of the virus, forced the closure of the business.
In the move centres including pubs, cinemas and nightclubs were also forced to close.
Hotel CEO Michael Jones said at the time, the company could not afford to support and continue to pay workers during a period of no revenue.
"I feel awful for these people and I hope when we are ready to open again that they'll be able to come back and continue to work for us," Mr Jones said.
Speaking to the Bulletin yesterday Mr Morris said he had to sell the shares to ensure workers received their entitlements but said he was confident the casino would re-open.
"I'm optimistic," Mr Morris said. "Things will be different when all this over but it won't last forever."
Mr Morris said many of his Orpheus resort staff were still on the island, staying there for free during the pandemic.
"They had nowhere else to go and they are probably staying at the safest place in Australia right now," he said.
Originally published as Casino owner cashes in shares for out of work staff