As Empire City Turns 15, MGM Resorts Reiterates Interest in Full Casino License

Posted on: October 23, 2021, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: October 24, 2021, 04:21h.

October marks the 15th anniversary for the Empire City Casino, and according to a release from MGM Resorts International, the Yonkers, NY facility heralded the occasion by reaching another milestone.

Empire City Casino
The entrance canopy at Empire City Casino at Yonkers, NY. As the video lottery casino celebrates its 15th anniversary this month, owner MGM Resorts International said it will look to acquire a full-fledged casino license from the state and expand the facility, located just outside of New York City. (Image:

Earlier this month, the video lottery terminal venue at Yonkers Raceway reached the $4 billion mark in funding for New York state education. More than $1.3 billion has been generated in the last five years. That’s despite a six-month closure and several months of reduced operating capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Empire City officials said the Westchester County casino’s economic impact extends beyond its funding for education. It’s the largest private employer in Yonkers, with more than 1,000 workers. More than 70 percent of the workforce lives in Yonkers, nearby Mount Vernon, or the Bronx, the latter the closest New York City borough. The casino has an annual payroll of $80 million and spends more than $30 million each year in purchasing goods and services from local businesses.

The casino also generates hundreds of millions to support the sport of harness racing, which races year-round at the 122-year-old track.

Casino Resort Would Add 2,500 Jobs

While Empire City is celebrating its anniversary, officials there are also planning for the future.

MGM Resorts, which purchased the casino two years ago, has said it wants to make Empire City a full-fledged casino. That would allow it to offer live table games, rather than the electronic variety currently available there. It would also open the door for a brick-and-mortar sportsbook and several other amenities.

Empire City said it would add another 2,500 employees if it received one of the three casino resort licenses set aside for the downstate region. It also said the move would lead, directly and indirectly, to more than 10,000 new jobs.

Senior Vice President and General Manager Ed Domingo said in a statement that MGM is “fully committed” to New York.

This is an exciting time as we reflect on the past 15 years of success and look ahead towards continuing to expand our offerings as a hospitality and entertainment company,” Domingo said. “We can’t wait to see what the next 15 years bring.”

This past week, the New York State Gaming Commission published a request for information regarding the three downstate licenses. The agency is looking for feedback from companies interested in applying for a license, as well as from communities and other stakeholders.

Responses to the RFI are due on Dec. 10.

About Empire City

The Empire City Casino was developed by the Rooney family, better known for its ownership of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooneys bought the track in 1972. The family spent $225 million to build a casino with more than 7,500 gaming terminals.

A $50 million expansion took place in 2012 and formally opened in January 2013.

MGM Resorts bought the track and casino from the Rooneys in January 2019 for $850 million. The Las Vegas-based gaming company sold the property to MGM Growth Properties and subsequently entered into a lease.