The Caesars Windsor casino in southwestern Ontario laid off 120 employees on Monday morning.

The layoffs affect 110 union and 10 non-union staff in various departments, including finance, food and beverage and tables games, said casino spokesperson Holly Ward.

"An accumulation of challenges," including the recession, tough new American passport requirements and the high value of the Canadian dollar, have caused "a softening of business," Ward said.

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Holly Ward, director of communications and community affairs for Caesars Windsor, blamed 'an accumulation of challenges', including the falling U.S. exchange rate, for a drop in business. ((Dennis Porter/CBC))

"Business has now shifted to the weekends, and that's when we have the busiest times," she said. "So, we have to make sure that we're staffed appropriately for those busy weekend times, concert nights."

Casino struggling for months

The threat of layoffs had been looming since at least September.

On Sept. 24, Rick Laporte, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 444, which represents more than 2,900 casino employees, acknowledged a considerable drop in business meant "the only solution, at the end of the day, may be, in fact, a layoff."

The casino, operated by Windsor Casino Ltd. on behalf of the provincial government's Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., has been cutting costs for several months, Ward said.

"When we found that it had to come down to our payroll expenses, because it's one of the largest expenses that we have, we did meet with the union early on to make sure that the number was certainly the lowest."

Caesars casino and hotel complex is Windsor's second-largest employer, with about 3,600 workers.