Play Up Late: New York Casinos Soon Won’t Have To Say Good Night Before Midnight

Posted By Derek Helling on March 24, 2021

If you’re the type that likes to play the slots at 3 a.m. or give the dice some throws while the rooster crows, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has good news for you.

The ongoing curfew for New York casinos won’t be ongoing much longer.

Cuomo set an end date for the mandatory closing time last week. After that date, commercial casinos in New York will again be completely free to determine their own hours.

When is the New York casino curfew ending?

Through April 5, the four upstate non-tribal casinos in the Empire State must close by 11 p.m. Starting April 6, however, the state will allow those properties to once again operate 24 hours a day if they wish.

Given that was their practice prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a strong possibility they will do so. At least, eventually. Some casinos in other states have still voluntarily shut down to give staff time to clean their facilities.

Even after April 5, the best bet is to check the casino website or call to verify hours. Cuomo was optimistic about not having to limit casinos’ hours again, saying the state is “reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Those who visit these properties should note that this won’t mean a complete return to pre-COVID settings in every way at New York casinos. Some safety precautions may endure for a while, yet.

Capacity limits and mask requirements

Cuomo didn’t lift the state’s 25% of fire code capacity limit for casinos. Thus, facilities like Rivers Casino in Schenectady will still have to count the number of patrons coming and going.

Individual operators like Rivers maintain their own requirements for guests to wear face masks as well. Certain amenities like VIP parking and offerings like poker rooms will remain unavailable.

Casino-goers should also expect to still undergo temperature screenings. Additionally, the casinos will probably continue to restrict the number of available gaming positions to promote social distancing.

What will it take for the rest of those protocols to fade away like the curfew? The light that Cuomo referred to growing even brighter.

Vaccination numbers rising in NY

Two major statistics will determine casinos’ fates in New York just like everywhere else. Those are the percentage of the population that has become vaccinated against COVID-19 and the ongoing positivity rate in the state.

New York, with a population of 19 million, is approaching 3 million individuals receiving a vaccine. As that number rises, it’s fair to expect Cuomo to consider increasing — if not altogether lifting — the capacity limit.

The counties that New York casinos inhabit have some of the lowest current positivity rates in the state. For example, Sullivan County, home to Resorts World Catskills, had 15 positives out of 303 tests on March 21.

The stats are moving in the right direction, so the curfew will soon be gone. Hopefully, it won’t be long before New York casinos can lift other restrictions as well.

Photo by AP / Seth Wenig
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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