After COVID-19 Shutdown, Every New York State Casino is Back in Business

Posted on: September 26, 2020, 03:24h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2020, 10:31h.

With the recent reopening of Empire City Casino, all casinos in New York state are in operation again after a six-month COVID-19 lockdown.

Empire City Casino
Empire City, a race track and casino in Yonkers, New York, reopened on Sept. 21. Every casino in the state is operating again after the COVID-19 shutdown. (Image: Untapped New York)

A harness racing track and casino, Empire City, owned by MGM Resorts, reopened Sept. 21 with video gaming machines in operation. Live racing will take place at Empire City without spectators. On-property race wagering is prohibited under state guidelines until further notice.

Empire City Casino is in Yonkers, just north of the Bronx, a New York City borough.

New York state is home to four full commercial casinos and eight race tracks, such as Empire City, that only offer video gaming. Tribal casinos do not operate under state jurisdiction, and also are open.

Michael Kane, president and executive director of the New York Gaming Association, told that some of the properties, while open, might not have every allowed table game or video machine in use yet. Some properties might be positioning video machines at the proper distance apart or placing barriers at table games.

“It’s a work in progress,” Kane told

Governor Gives Green Light

Faced with an increase in coronavirus infections in March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ordered casinos and all other “nonessential” businesses to close.

The governor gradually allowed some businesses to reopen, but kept casinos closed. State health officials were concerned that large gatherings in enclosed spaces, such as casinos, could spread the virus.

However, Cuomo allowed casinos to reopen on Sept. 9 at 25 percent capacity. He also required other safety measures, including mandatory masks for employees and guests.

In addition, the governor said table games could not be put into use unless physical barriers were installed at the tables.

While some casinos began operating again on Sept. 9, others needed more time to train staff members and to prepare the property for the restart. All New York state casinos are open now, Kane said.

Las Vegas Casinos Reopen

With the reopening of the Empire City Casino, most MGM Resorts properties worldwide are back in operation, the company said in a statement.

Two that have not reopened, Park MGM and NoMad in Las Vegas, are scheduled to begin operating again on Sept. 30.

Park MGM will be the first smoke-free casino on the Las Vegas Strip. NoMad is a luxury hotel occupying the upper floors of Park MGM.

The Cosmopolitan hotel-casino, also on the Las Vegas Strip, recently banned smoking in some public spaces, but not in the gaming areas.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered casinos and many other businesses closed in March when coronavirus cases began to spike. He later implemented a phased reopening process. The governor allowed casinos to reopen on June 4.

Most casinos in Southern Nevada have reopened. Two Caesars Entertainment hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, Planet Hollywood and the Cromwell, have not reopened.

However, Planet Hollywood announced on its Instagram page this week that it will begin operating again on Oct. 8 at 10 am.