Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway has announced that it is pursuing partnerships in the hopes of expanding their current resort into a world-class facility.

Empire City Casino expansion

Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway is looking for a partnership or other arrangement to help expand their facilities. (Image: Steel Institute of New York)

“We believe our prime location and outstanding accessibility will serve as a unique platform to create one of the world’s leading gaming, hospitality, and entertainment venues,” Empire City President and CEO Timothy J. Rooney said in a statement. “We are excited to explore opportunities with potential partners who can build on the strong foundation we have established.”

J.P. Morgan Hired as Financial Advisor

According to the statement, Empire City has retained the services of J.P. Morgan Securities as a financial advisor. The casino says it will be exploring a number of alternatives, “including strategic partnerships,” to better position the venue to compete in the future.

Yonkers Raceway has been located in the same location in Yonkers, New York since 1899. In 2006, the first phase of the Empire City Casino opened there, with nearly 1,900 gaming machines. Since then, expansions have added thousands more slot machines and electronic versions of table games such as blackjack, craps, and roulette.

The prime location, which is just north of the New York City border, has made Empire City incredibly successful. The facility takes in well over $500 million in gaming revenue each year, making it a very significant casino operator.

That’s all the more impressive considering the fact that the racino cannot offer the full range of games (in particular, traditional table games) that full casino operators have access to.

Location, Location, Location

It’s that location that will make Empire City an attractive potential partner for other businesses, as it is currently the most lucrative location from which to attract players from the New York City metro area. However, J.P. Morgan did caution in the statement that there is no guarantee that this exploratory process will result in a partnership or any other type of transaction.

It’s possible that Empire City is also looking to expand in response to increased competition, both in the state and in the northeastern United States as a whole.

In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that would allow for up to seven new full-scale casinos to be built in New York. The first stage of that expansion led to four projects ultimately being approved in upstate regions of New York, including the Del Lago Resort & Casino near Rochester, the Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, and a casino at Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier.

One more casino is still to open: Resorts World Catskills, which will be located near Monticello. That facility will be more convenient than the others for travelers coming from New York City, and its combination of lush amenities and more expansive gaming options might be seen as a threat by Empire City.

New or upcoming gaming venues have also appeared in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in recent years, further saturating the regional market.

Empire City may also be preparing for a time when New York State offers full gaming licenses in Westchester, Long Island, and NYC. If that were to occur, expanding the facility at Yonkers Raceway would make it a natural choice to receive one of those licenses.