AmTote workers facing layoffs GTECH may move some work to Fla.

May 01, 1993|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

GTECH Corp. plans to lay off workers at its newly acquired AmTote International division in Hunt Valley, and said yesterday that it was considering moving at least part of the 250-worker operation to Florida.

"There will be some downsizing," said Bob Rendine, a spokesman for GTECH, based in West Greenwich, R.I. "With one company being taken over by another company, there's going to be some duplication."

Mr. Rendine said GTECH, which holds two contracts worth more than $110 million to provide computer equipment and services to the Maryland Lottery, is looking at Florida locations for AmTote. But, he said, GTECH has not made any firm decision to move any operations. AmTote sells tote boards and wager processing systems used at horse and dog racetracks.

The prospect of a move drew fire from a leading state legislator, who noted that GTECH has a contract to provide computer services to the state Lottery, including a no-bid contract to run the Lottery's controversial new Keno game.

"They made a very lucrative contract with Maryland and . . . this is the thanks we got," said Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, R-10th, minority leader in the House of Delegates.

GTECH will not discuss which operations might be moved until decisions are made, Mr. Rendine said, adding that the decision would be made "over the next couple of months."

Some local layoffs will be made whether or not the division moves, he said. The schedule for that decision has not yet been set either, Mr. Rendine said.

"We've just bought the company and we're making sure the overall framework is running effectively and efficiently," Mr. Rendine said.

GTECH's acquisition of AmTote from New York-based General Instrument Corp. became final April 5. GTECH did not buy AmTote's lottery services business, which is still competing with GTECH's lottery business under the name General Instrument Lottery Corp.

AmTote has about 250 employees at its headquarters and an additional 600 workers across the country and overseas. It is considered the country's top supplier of pari-mutuel betting equipment.

AmTote, formerly known as American Totalisator Co., was founded by Marylander Harry L. Strauss in 1933 and was sold to General Instrument in 1967. The company has operated pari-mutuel betting equipment at Maryland tracks for more than 50 years. Mr. Rendine said it also supplies pari-mutuel equipment to 13 Florida customers.

Mr. Rendine said GTECH was interested in Florida because the state, where dog racing and jai alai betting are legal, is also close to Latin America, which is expected to be a growth market for gambling technology.

GTECH believes AmTote needs some restructuring because it has been losing market share in recent years, Mr. Rendine said. Mary Lou Baker, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, said the state had not received any warning from GTECH that the Hunt Valley operation was in any danger.

Page W. Boinest, a spokeswoman for Gov. William Donald Schaefer, said company officials have assured the state that it would not move AmTote without consulting Maryland officials. Since no consultations have occurred, she said, it was unlikely that a move was imminent.

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