There’s a new casino to visit in New York state. On Monday, the Oneida Indian Nation had its grand opening for The Lake House at Sylvan Beach in Vienna.
Meanwhile, another tribal-owned casino has chosen to remain closed for now. Amid ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe announced late last week that the planned-for Aug. 3 reopening of its Akwesasne Mohawk Casino in Hogansburg would be delayed.
Fanfare at The Lake House at Sylvan Beach grand opening
The scene was festive on Monday at The Lake House at Sylvan Beach opening. Local officials and casino representatives popped champagne to mark the highly anticipated event.
A line of eager casino-goers was present when the doors finally opened. The casino features a parlor containing 100 slot machines. The facility also includes indoor and outdoor dining, an event stage, and easy access to nearby Oneida Lake.
By contrast, the popular Sylvan Beach Amusement Park located next door remains closed due to the pandemic. The park does not plan to reopen until next year.
Starting in mid-March, every casino in the US closed due to the pandemic. The Oneida Indian Nation was the first tribal operator in New York to reopen its casinos. They opened the following casinos on June 10:
- Point Place Casino (Bridgeport)
- Yellow Brick Road Casino & Sports Book (Chittenango)
- Turning Stone Resort Casino (Verona)
The Lake House at Sylvan Beach is taking precautions. One is to follow New York state guidelines by restricting access for anyone traveling from 31 states, as well as two countries currently experiencing high case counts.
Employees and vendors are required to wear masks at all times, and gloves if they interact with guests. Guests must also wear masks when feasible. When not feasible, they must practice physical distancing and observe occupancy limits.
Akwesasne Mohawk Casino delays reopening until end of August
Next Monday was the original target date for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to reopen the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino. But a fresh surge in new virus cases in the Akwesasne community prompted the tribal council to push back the reopening to Aug. 28.
The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino in Hogansburg first opened in 1999, and in 2013 completed a $74 million expansion. Besides adding a 150-room hotel, a pool, spas and restaurants, the casino increased its space to provide 1,800 slots and 30 table games.
The reopening plan had involved limiting guests to residents living within a 100-mile radius of the property.
In its statement announcing the delay, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe drew a contrast between itself and other tribes throughout the US currently taking a different approach.
“As one of the last tribal gaming operations to reopen in the country, the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort has taken lessons learned to develop a stringent plan that assures the ongoing health and safety of guests, associates, and the community.”
New York was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. However, it has seen both cases and COVID-related deaths reduce significantly over recent weeks. Even so, the finding of eight new positive cases in the Akwesasne community prompted the tribe to delay the reopening.
According to the American Gaming Association‘s COVID-19 Casino Tracker, 842 of the country’s almost 1,000 casinos (commercial and tribal) have now reopened. Most that have are operating at limited capacity.