New York privately owned casinos will be able to reopen their doors Sept. 9 after a lengthy COVID-19 shutdown that kept them closed since March 16, at Sunday Readings.
Step by step the entire gaming world is reopening after almost six months of forced shutdown due to coronavirus pandemic.
New York casinos can reopen Sept. 9 after lengthy COVID-19 shutdown
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s casino reopening plan on September 1, four days after promising a decision would be coming this week.
The casinos will be required to cap their maximum capacity at 25%, while those who enter the facilities will be required to wear masks and some slot machines will be closed to ensure for social distancing, according to Cuomo.
The state has not yet approved table games, though casinos will be able to seek approval once installing physical barriers between guests.
The reopening decision will apply to all racetrack casinos as well as the state’s four full-fledged, privately run casinos: Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County, del Lago in Seneca County, Rivers Casino in Schenectady and Tioga Downs in Tioga County.
It also could provide a break for local governments in the casinos’ regions, which rely on tax revenue from the facilities that has been wiped out while they’ve remained closed.
The New York casinos will be required to ensure their air filtration systems meet certain requirements set by the state, similar to the requirements set for indoor shopping malls.
“Casinos can open Sept. 9 on the condition that they have the enhanced air filtration system in place before they open,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters.
Now, casinos will be working over the next week to ensure they can reopen as early as possible.
Genting, which operates Resorts World Catskills and the massive Resorts World racetrack casino in Queens, plans to open its doors on Wednesday, September 9.
“We have implemented a plan to seamlessly integrate the unmatched experiences in excitement, entertainment and luxury that guests have come to expect, with the more stringent health protocols that are needed to operate safely,” Bob DeSalvio, president of Genting Americas East, said in a statement.
Meghan Taylor, Genting’s vice president of government affairs, said guests will have their temperature checked upon entering the casino.
There will be at least 200 hand sanitizer stations throughout Resorts World Catskills, which does not recirculate air and has an air filtration system that exceeds the state standards, she said.
Some of Resorts World Catskills’ amenities, such as valet parking and its bus system, will not be open at first, Taylor said.
The other three private, full-fledged casinos had not yet announced a reopening date as of September 3, afternoon.
A spokesman for Tioga Downs said the casino was waiting for the state’s official guidance documents to be released before declaring an opening day. As of 2:40 p.m. September 1, those documents — which will lay out the exact requirements casinos have to comply with — had not yet been made public.
Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady will announce a reopening date soon, according to the casino.
“The Rivers team has been working hand-in-hand with the state to make all the changes necessary to reopen and we will meet, or exceed, all requirements to provide a safe and healthy entertainment environment,” Rivers General Manager Justin Moore said in a statement.
Yonkers’ Empire City Casino, one of the state’s largest gambling facilities, said it is excited about the reopening of their facilities.
“We are awaiting specific guidelines from the state but are very excited to be able to start to welcome back our employees and guests in a safe and healthy manner,” a company spokeswoman said.
Empire City hopes to open in September, keeping in mind the time it will take to recall its workforce and get them trained. When employees are recalled to work, they will maintain their seniority and their benefits will begin immediately, with no waiting period.
Empire City had furloughed more than 900 employees as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in New York.
Native American-run casinos, which are not constrained to the state’s COVID-19 shutdowns, have already been open in New York for months after temporarily shutting down in March, April and May, when the coronavirus was at its peak in New York.
That includes the Seneca Nation’s casinos in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, as well as the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, Oneida County.
Cuomo had been reluctant to reopen casinos, noting the balance he must strike between essential economic activity and the health of the general public.
But the state’s faring far better with the coronavirus than it did in March, April and May, when it experienced hundreds of COVID-19 deaths a day. Now, the rate of COVID-19 tests coming back positive each day has been under 1% for three weeks.
State Budget Director Robert Mujica said casinos have not yet been approved to allow table games, including black jack and poker.
But he said that could change. The state Gaming Commission will have the ability to approve table games if casinos create a system that allows for physical barriers between participants, he said.
Taylor said Resorts World Catskills is hopeful it will get Gaming Commission approval before opening day, noting table games will be limited to three people per table and barriers have been or are being installed.
The casino is also in the process of figuring out how many previously furloughed employees will be recalled.
Resorts World Catskills, which employs 1,400 people under normal circumstances, furloughed about 1,200 people as the COVID-19 shutdown dragged on.
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