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Canterbury Park furloughs 850 employees as coronavirus closure continues

The track and card room has been closed since March 16, and with no income coming in Canterbury officials made a difficult decision.
Credit: Matt Passolt

SHAKOPEE, Minn. — With no races and no cards for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus, officials at Canterbury Park have made the difficult decision to furlough more than 800 employees until operations resume. 

Canterbury Park has been closed since March 16 in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "With no meaningful revenue being generated during this time, the Company has implemented temporary unpaid furloughs impacting approximately 850 employees," reads a news release announcing the furloughs. "(Canterbury) will continue to operate with a significantly reduced staff of key personnel, all of whom are subject to salary reductions that will remain in effect until the Company begins to return to normal operations."

Canterbury Park President and CEO Randy Sampson says the operation has been aggressive in trying to preserve cash by reducing operating expenses, delaying capital projects and other measures, but says the decision to put employees on furlough was the toughest decision yet. 

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“The additional actions we are implementing today are the hardest we have ever had to make given the impact on our dedicated employees for whom this situation is beyond our collective control," Sampson said. "While this was an extremely difficult decision to make, the Board of Directors and I remain committed to taking the necessary actions that help ensure our employees’ health and safety as well as the Company’s long-term future."  

The decision to voluntarily cease operations was based in part by the executive order issued by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz closing bars and  restaurants until May 1.

Canterbury Park is the only thoroughbred and quarter horse racing facility in the state, offering live racing from May to September. The Card Casino typically hosts card games 24 hours a day, seven days a week, dealing both poker and table games. 

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