New York State Casinos Must Close Nightly at 10 O’Clock Under COVID-19 Mandate

Posted on: November 13, 2020, 04:37h. 

Last updated on: November 14, 2020, 06:14h.

Casinos and racetracks in New York State are required to close at 10 pm every night under new COVID-19 restrictions, according to a gaming association official.

Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gestures during a recent media briefing. Under the governor’s directive this week, casinos and racetracks are required to close at 10 pm every night. (Image: Lev Radin/Sipa USA)

The New York State Gaming Commission issued the mandate based on an executive order this week from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), said Michael Kane, president and executive director of the New York Gaming Association.

Kane told Casino.org on Friday the 10 pm closures are in effect from Nov. 13 into the “foreseeable future.” The properties are allowed to open the next morning, Kane said.  

Faced with rising coronavirus cases, Cuomo said at a media briefing on Wednesday that bars, restaurants, and gyms statewide are required to close “in-person” service from 10 pm to 5 am daily. These closures also became effective Nov. 13.

At that briefing, the governor did not specifically mention casinos. But Kane at the time told Casino.org the bar and restaurant closures also applied to commercial casinos and racetracks. On Friday, Kane clarified that casinos and racetracks, not just their restaurants and bars, will cease operations at 10 pm.

New York State is home to four full commercial casinos and eight racetracks, known as “racinos,” that only offer video gaming.

Across the state, bars and restaurants are required to clear customers out by 10 pm. The kitchen at these places can remain open for takeout and delivery.

This directive came amid rising Empire State COVID-19 cases. In New York City alone, the average positivity rate for coronavirus tests over the last seven days rose to 2.52 percent — the highest rate since June 9, the New York Post reported.

Cuomo said during the media briefing that the state might implement tighter restrictions if these measures do not curtail COVID-19 infection rates. This would include prohibiting all indoor dining.

Casinos Open in September

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Cuomo ordered casinos and other “nonessential” businesses to close.

The governor later allowed some businesses to reopen, but kept casinos closed. Health officials were concerned about crowds clustered together in a confined space.

After a six-month lockdown, Cuomo allowed casinos to reopen Sept. 9 at 25 percent capacity. He required other safety measures, including mandatory masks for employees and customers. Physical barriers, such as plexiglass walls, are required at table games.

The casinos and tracks began reopening throughout September. Some needed additional time beyond Sept. 9 to train employees and install safety requirements. Empire City, a harness track in Yonkers, was the last resort to reopen. It began operating again Sept. 21. Yonkers is just north of the Bronx, a New York City borough.

New Jersey Closures

Also this week, New Jersey Gov. Phi Murphy (D) implemented bar and restaurant restrictions to curb an increase in COVID-19 infections in the Garden State.

Murphy’s directive prohibits indoor dining between 10 pm and 5 am at restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges. Casinos are required to stop serving food and drinks at 10 pm, he said in a tweet.

The governor said on CNBC this week the state is “tweaking our parameters at the edges” to suppress the coronavirus.

He stressed that these latest closures are “not a lockdown.”