GTECH denies move to Fla., but cuts about 30 at AmTote


GTECH Corp. yesterday laid off about 30 workers at its newly acquired AmTote International unit in Hunt Valley, but the company denied reports it has decided to move most of the Maryland operation to Boca Raton, Fla.

GTECH spokesman Robert Rendine said yesterday's cuts were an expected consequence of AmTote's weak performance in recent years and duplication of functions between AmTote and GTECH's home office in West Greenwich, R.I.

He said similar cuts had been under consideration by AmTote's former owners, General Instrument Corp. of New York, before GTECH agreed to buy AmTote in November. The deal closed April 5.

The company would not say what types of workers were laid off, but a union leader representing about 70 of the 250 workers at AmTote said earlier this week that GTECH was expected to cut mostly office workers. Dion F. Guthrie, president of Local 1501 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said he did not expect his members to be cut.

"What they're going to do has to be blamed on the prior management," Mr. Guthrie, who was in Indiana yesterday, said Monday. "As much as I'd like to wave the flag at the new guy, I really can't."

Mr. Guthrie said AmTote has lost market share in recent years for the tote boards and betting equipment it sells, mostly to horse racetracks. Mr. Rendine put AmTote's market share at 50 percent in November, but said last week that it has continued to fall in the months since. For all the consensus on the necessity of some cuts, the company and the union leader clashed on what was said at a company meeting Thursday.

Mr. Guthrie said workers were told GTECH would move AmTote's marketing, finance and programming departments to Boca Raton. He said between 125 and 150 people work in those departments, "which is the bulk of Hunt Valley outside of the union people.

"It's cut and dried," Mr. Guthrie said. "I was at the meeting. They named certain departments that would be moving."

Mr. Rendine said it's "absolutely not true" that any decision on moving has been made, or that moving was presented as a certainty Thursday. The company said last week that it is considering moving part of AmTote to Florida, in large part because it is closer to Latin America, which GTECH expects to be a growth market for gambling-related technology.

"We will continue to have a strong presence in Maryland," Mr. Rendine said.

"There have been no definitive plans to make any moves. Anyone who told you otherwise came away with the wrong impression."

He said GTECH has signed a one-year lease on AmTote's Hunt Valley headquarters, which still belongs to General Instrument. The company also recently reached a one-year deal with the union, whose members handle manufacturing, shipping, and equipment testing and repair work.

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