After coming up against a brick wall for almost six months, New York’s four commercial casinos can now breathe easy as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that these establishments, along with malls, will finally be allowed to reopen.
The governor announced this green lighting yesterday (Thursday, Sept 3, 2020), mentioning that casinos will be able to welcome players as early as Wednesday, September 9, but with reduced operating capacity. New York’s commercial casinos will only be allowed to operate at 25% capacity. Also, casinos will only be allowed to reopen if their establishments are equipped with enhanced air filtration systems. As with many other land-based casinos that reopened in the wake of the pandemic, New York’s commercial casinos must strictly comply with regulations and guidelines set by the state to ensure work and customer safety. The state’s Gaming Commission will have jurisdiction over enforcing the health and safety guidelines, in partnership with the state’s police department.
As the initial date of reopening draws near, those excited to play their favourite casino games might be in for some disappointment as not all games are available to players. Slot machines are available for use but some are turned off to ensure that strict social distancing measures are implemented. Table games are not yet available for play as these are not yet approved by the state’s gaming regulators. Not to worry though, these will be available after operators install barriers between employees and customers. Also, face masks are required to be worn at all times inside casino premises.
In light of this recent news, only Resorts World Catskills has announced its reopening on Wednesday, September 9. The other three commercial casinos, Rivers Casino, del Lago and Tioga Downs are yet to announce their reopening dates.
After hearing about the governor’s announcement, Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady issued a statement that will announce its reopening date soon. It also stated that it will release an extensive list of property-wide modifications and safety precautions aimed at protecting guests and employees. It also stated that all these changes and precautions will be announced before its reopening and these published on the casino’s website.
Genting Americas East, the operator of Resorts World Catskills, was also quick to respond to the announcement. Bob DeSalvio, Genting Americas East’s president, released a statement saying that the casino has already implemented a strategy that will seamlessly integrate player experience with stringent health and safety protocols. The casino has already taken the necessary precautions to keep its premises COVID safe. It has procured thermal scanners, upgraded its air filters, and installed plexiglass barriers on their slot machines and game tables. It is one of the casinos currently working with the state to get table games approved for use upon its reopening.
This recent announcement is a breath of fresh air not only for casinos but also their employees. Job security was threatened due to reopening uncertainties. The state’s commercial properties filed Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN) earlier this year (July), affecting more than 5,000 workers. With this announcement, furloughed employees are slowly getting back to work.