Empire City Casino in Yonkers is experiencing issues with some of its computer systems due to a cybersecurity threat affecting MGM Resorts properties across the US.
A customer service representative explained to PlayNY on Wednesday that Empire City has its slots and gaming tables open, but many digital systems are not working consistently or are down. Customers are unable to use credit cards or get cash advances, and ATMs are not functioning. No free play or account play is working at this time either, according to the service desk.
Empire City Casino is the only property among NY casinos owned by MGM Resorts.
Slots and table games open, but customers should use cash
Visitors to the Empire City Casino would be best served to utilize cash at this time. No checks can be written, nor can the casino cash any checks. The ATM machines will work for debit cards that have a pin, but not for a cash advance against a credit card.
“Things are changing rapidly, but it’s best to come here with cash,” an Empire City Casino employee told PlayNY on Wednesday.
News surfaced Monday that a cybersecurity incident had caused system-wide outages at MGM Resorts properties, affecting company email, reservations, bookings, casino websites and more. The slot machines are open at Empire City Casino, but a Las Vegas Review-Journal story from Tuesday reported “about 60 percent of the slot machines and other computer-based games on the floor appeared to be out of service” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Phone calls not being taken at Borgata in NJ
MGM Resorts owns casinos in six states across the country: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio. All casinos have been affected.
In New Jersey at the MGM Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, phone calls are not being taken, and like other MGM casinos across the US, the website has been replaced by a message about the security issue.
The MGM response on Monday referenced steps being taken at that time, but two days later, there are still issues in the Empire City Casino and others.
“MGM Resorts recently identified a cybersecurity issue affecting some of the company’s systems,” Monday’s MGM Resorts statement read. “Promptly after detecting the issue, we quickly began an investigation with assistance from leading external cybersecurity experts. We also notified law enforcement and took prompt action to protect our systems and data, including shutting down certain systems. Our investigation is ongoing, and we are working diligently to determine the nature and scope of the matter.”
Empire City is one of the oldest casinos in New York, but it’s recently been posturing to expand into a full-fledged expansive gaming facility with even more machines. It currently serves as a racino with the adjacent Yonkers Raceway. MGM Resorts has suggested that it would pour money into the venue to upgrade it, when and if it receives a coveted full-scale casino license.
Same group that hacked MGM also hacked Caesars
On Thursday several news agencies reported that a hacker group that calls itself Scattered Spider was behind the cyber attacks on Empire City Casino and other MGM properties across the country.
It appears the attack is part of a series of attempts to target casinos. Only weeks ago, according to Bloomberg, Caesars Entertainment, Inc. made the decision to pay tens of millions to that hacker group in a ransomware scheme.
It’s unclear whether Caesars properties targeted by Scattered Spider were ever impacted by the attack to the extent that services and systems were shut down, or whether data was breached or shared.
Scattered Spider, also known variously as UNC3944 and Roasted 0ktapus, has made similar ransomware attacks on organizations, including Microsoft cloud services, according to the FBI.
Since the cybersecurity issue at Empire City was announced via a nationwide press release from MGM Resorts on Monday, no admission that a hacker group and ransomware is responsible has been made by MGM.
When hackers deploy ransomware against a target, they aim to gain control of computer files and hold them with the threat of destruction or sharing sensitive data unless a large payment is made to them.