New York Commercial Casinos Cleared To Reopen With Restrictions On Sept. 9

Posted on September 3, 2020

All the campaigning by casino operators and workers has paid off. On Thursday, news of New York casino’s reopening date gave those parties what they wanted.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a new executive order specifying Sept. 9 as the date that commercial casinos in New York can reopen. He also established health and safety standards for their operation.

Details of the New York casinos reopening protocols

The atmosphere is going to be very similar to that which guests at New York tribal casinos have seen for the past few months.

Those properties have mandated face masks and temperature checks. They have shuttered gaming positions and some of them have even restricted admittance based on where guests live.

Commercial casinos in New York won’t be as selective in admittance, but they will share many of those policies.

Cuomo levied the following restrictions:

  • Capacity of 25% of fire code
  • Must install an advanced HVAC system for air filtration
  • No beverage service on gaming floors
  • No table games
  • Mandatory wearing of face masks
  • Gaming positions spread at least six feet apart

It’s uncertain whether each casino will open at their first opportunity. Some of them, such as Resorts World Catskills and Tioga Downs, had already shared with the public their operational plans for reopening whenever they got permission to do so.

Perhaps with the exception of the HVAC systems, those plans exceeded Cuomo’s mandates. An example of that is the installation of plexiglass barriers at cage windows.

The casinos now have nearly a week to prepare, which will likely mean bringing furloughed workers back on the job. For those individuals and the state treasury, these casinos reopening is great news. It’s even better this month than next.

The significance of getting back to work in September

In July, many furloughed casino workers in the state received WARN notices from their employers. That’s essentially a 90-day notice that the state requires companies to submit if they plan to do firings or permanent layoffs en masse.

For that reason, thousands of casino workers in the Empire State were set to lose their jobs on Oct. 1. Now, at least some of those people should get back to work soon.

With the 25% capacity in place, it’s unlikely that the casinos will bring back their entire complement of workers on furlough, however. That number is less than casino operators hoped for, as Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural hoped for 50% of fire code.

Still, the casinos will enjoy a better situation than Michigan casinos, which are currently operating at 15% of fire code capacity. The 25% threshold is pretty typical across the country.

Another entity likely happy to see commercial casinos operating again is the state coffers. The state has lost hundreds of millions of dollars from a lack of gambling tax revenue amidst the near six-month shutdown.

While the limited capacity and lack of table games mean that revenue may not be at its most robust, some revenue is better than none.

Photo by Getty
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. 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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