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Empire City Casino to reopen September 21


New York-based Empire City Casino, owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, will reopen for business in a limited capacity from Monday, September 21.

Restrictions on customer capacity and availability of food and beverage will be put in place upon reopening, according to state regulations.

“This has been an unimaginably difficult and challenging time, and as we reopen our doors and welcome back team members and guests, we owe our gratitude to all healthcare and essential workers and those providing resources to the community,” MGM Resorts president and chief executive Bill Hornbuckle said.

“It’s been several months since we were forced to close, so it is with strong emotion that we welcome our team members back to work. Health and safety remain our first priority, and our commitment to New York has never been stronger.”

Casinos across the United States closed in March in response to the novel coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic. MGM has been steadily reopening its land-based venues since summer 2020, including Las Vegas-based The Mirage in August.

New York’s casinos  were given the green light to reopen by Governor Mario Cuomo last week, following one of the longest shut-downs of any state.

MGM venues have reopened in accordance with the operator’s own seven-point-safety plan, a set of protocols and procedures designed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to mitigate the spread of disease, protect customers and employees and respond quickly to potential new cases of covid-19.

Key restrictions introduced include employee screening, temperature checks and covid-19 specific training, guest screening and temperature checks, compulsory use of face coverings for staff and guests, social distancing, physical barriers in those areas where distancing is not possible, higher numbers of handwashing stations, and increased cleaning and sanitation.

The pandemic has also seen technological innovations introduced in the venues, such as digital menus for restaurants to be viewed on customers’ smartphones, and virtual waiting lists for restaurant guests with SMS notifications when tables are ready.

Some services will remain unavailable, such as Empire City’s bars remaining closed, and no valet parking offered for guests. Several machines and chairs on the venue’s gaming floor have been removed in order to facilitate social distancing.

During its period of closure, Empire City has been supporting its local community, through the donation of 25,000 pounds of food to Caritas of Port Chester, as well as cash donations of $150,000 to New York’s Health Research, Inc., $25,000 to the Bronx Community Relief Effort, $25,000 to the World Central Kitchen and $25,000 to Feeding Westchester, to provide food to residents across several areas of New York.

MGM Resorts International saw revenue for the first half of 2020 badly hit by the pandemic, posting a net loss of $50.4m for the period.

Net revenue for the six months to June 30 amounted to $2.54bn, down 60.3% from the $6.40bn that was generated in the same period last year.

In July, MGM announced that shareholders of Roar Digital, the joint venture between MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings which powers the operator’s online offering, BetMGM, have committed to a second round of investment in the business, bringing its total funding to $450m.

The operator revealed that despite the impact of the pandemic, BetMGM was expected to generate more than $130m in net revenue for the year. This is expected to come primarily from its igaming offering in New Jersey, where Roar has market share of around 18%, and had seen revenue rise 210% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020.