International edition
September 19, 2020

"Casinos are nonessential," Gov. Cuomo says

New York commercial casinos to remain closed

New York commercial casinos to remain closed
"It's an issue of density, the likelihood of compliance and the essential nature of the business," Cuomo said during a call with reporters.
United States | 08/04/2020

Del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County, Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Casino in Schenectady and Tioga Downs Casino Resort will remain closed and with no timetable for reopening. These facilities are at a disadvantage because Native American-owned casinos have been open for nearly two months.

G

ov. Andrew Cuomo delivered last week bad news to four New York commercial casinos in the midst of a shutdown of more than four and a half months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's an issue of density, the likelihood of compliance and the essential nature of the business," Cuomo said during a call with reporters, in which he announced del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County, Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Casino in Schenectady and Tioga Downs Casino Resort will remain closed. There has been no timetable for the casinos to reopen, the Democrat & Chronicle reports.

Cuomo ordered casinos to close on March 16 as the number of COVID-19 cases soared in New York. Before the shutdown, casinos implemented policies — capacity limits and reducing the number of slot machines and table games — but it wasn't enough. 

The temporary closures are affecting employees — nearly 1,100 employees at del Lago have been furloughed and could be laid off if the shutdown continues for an extended period — and local governments. Between Seneca County and the town of Tyre, del Lago's closure could lead to at least $2 million in lost gaming tax revenue this year. That doesn't include any lost sales tax revenue, and losses at other local businesses that benefit when the casino is open. 

The casinos are at a disadvantage because Native American-owned casinos have been open for nearly two months. The Oneida Indian Nation reopened its Point Place, Turning Stone and Yellow Brick Road casinos in June. There are strict guidelines in place and two employees have tested positive for COVID-19, but there hasn't been any outbreaks reported since the casinos reopened. 

Lance Young, the executive vice president, and general manager of del Lago Resort & Casino, told The Citizen two weeks ago that the casino has developed a reopening plan. The plan, named Extra Care, is based on federal and state guidelines. Capacity would be limited on the casino floor and adjustments would be made to allow for social distancing at slot machines and table games. 

Employees and guests would be screened before entering the casino. Workers would be issued personal protective equipment, including masks. 

"We're ready to reopen when the data and science says that we can and we'll continue to work with state officials," Young said. "Hopefully we'll be open soon." 

But Cuomo's comments suggest that the casinos won't be reopening anytime soon. While malls and shopping centers have been allowed to open, he argued that's because "people need food, people need clothes, people need home goods." 

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