New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the state’s casinos will be permitted to reopen next week, having been closed for almost six months as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The state’s casinos, which closed their doors on March 16 due to Covid-19, will reopen from Wednesday September 9, subject to strict safety protocols. The order applies to the state’s four commercial casinos and racetrack casinos.
They are among the last casinos in the US to reopen following the mass closures that swept the country in the wake of the pandemic.
All venues will be limited to 25% occupancy, while patrons will be required to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking – with no beverage or food service on the gaming floor.
Initially only slots will be permitted, provided there is at least six feet between machines, and table games will only be allowed once physical barriers are put in place, and approved by the New York Gaming Commission.
The state regulator will also be deployed to monitor properties, and ensure all safety measures are followed to the letter.
Additional staff must be deployed to control occupancy, traffic flow and seating, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection controls must be implemented.
Casinos will also be required to have enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards in place before they are permitted to reopen.
“New Yorkers have done an extraordinary job – we flattened the curve in a way that no expert thought was possible,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’ve made the determination that we can safely reopen casinos with enhanced air filtration and strict safety protocols including mandatory masks and social distancing.
“This is good news and the right next step in our data-driven, phased reopening which is working.”
The news was welcomed by Senator Joseph Addabbo, a leading advocate for gaming expansion in the state.
“This will result in many of the furloughed casino workers returning to their jobs and providing for their families, while permitting our residents to visit these gaming sites to safely enjoy the amenities during these difficult times,” Addabbo said. “The reopening of casinos will also be an economic generator for revenue and educational funding for our state, as we deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
While he described the reopening as a “productive first step”, Addabbo suggested that further guidelines be put in place to reexamine the status of casino operations and Covid-19 rates, every two weeks. This would help state authorities make decisions on allowing additional elements of the properties to reopen, he explained.
“I look forward to seeing how we progress from here,” he added.
Genting’s Resorts World Catskills has been quick to confirm that it will reopen from September 9, saying that it would implement a range of safety measures including temperature checks before entry, and has already installed plexiglass dividers on its table games.
“The Resorts World team has been anxiously awaiting the day when we can open our doors again to the fun and excitement that our casinos are known for,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Genting Americas East.
“We have implemented a plan to seamlessly integrate the unmatched experiences in excitement, entertainment and luxury that guests have come to expect, with the more stringent health protocols that are needed to operate safely. We are excited to play our part in Moving New York Forward.”