Following a six-month shutdown, casinos in New York State have been finally allowed to reopen on September 9 by Governor Andrew Cuomo. They will operate with limited occupancy.
Governor Cuomo Approves Restart of Casinos Operations
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given the green light for the state’s casinos to reopen their doors, starting as early as Wednesday, September 9. This comes after six months during which all state and commercials casinos had to stay closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prolonged suspension of casino business prompted casino workers to protest vehemently and appeal to Gov. Cuomo’s office to consider restoring casinos in some capacity. The order shuttering all casinos in the state came on March 16 and has been in force ever since, affecting all four commercial casinos as well as racetrack casinos.
In fact, New York may well be the state to have kept casinos closed the longest in a bid to tackle the constantly soaring rates of COVID-19 infections among the general population. Reopening the properties, Gov. Cuomo has ordered occupancy to be restricted to 25%.
Patrons will have to fall in line with the same health and safety guidelines that they have to observe elsewhere in the United States, including wearing masks at all times and only taking them off to eat and drink, assuming such services would be allowed.
As the order stands, all food and beverage amenities on the casino floor have been discontinued. The governor’s office has deemed it appropriate to only allow slots to return, with alternating slots switched off to ensure six feet between individual machines. Table games won’t be allowed.
New York Gaming Commission to Oversee Compliance with Measures
The New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) will oversee the process and also see that properties comply with the regulator’s request to install physical plexiglass barriers. The Gaming Commission will also deploy enforcement agents to make sure that measures at all casinos are kept.
Meanwhile, casinos would need to ensure that there are sufficient members of staff present to control occupancy, traffic flow and seating as well as carry out enhanced sanitization protocols.
Casinos will have to up the ante on their air filtration, ventilation and purification standards upgrading all of the above to the latest health and safety standards. That would have to happen before any of the casinos is allowed to reopen.
Gov. Cuomo congratulated New Yorkers for their perseverance and patience over the past six months, which proved difficult for the state:
“New Yorkers have done an extraordinary job – we flattened the curve in a way that no expert thought was possible. 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.”
The governor assured the public that the state had enough big data to process and ensure the phased reopening of businesses without the need for further closures.
Senator Joseph Addabbo welcomed the news and argued that the measure would allow furloughed casino workers to return to their work places and start providing for their families once again.
During the six months, at least 2,100 employees have been furloughed by two of leading brands in the state. Overall, the state has seen 5,200 casino employees furloughed.
Besides, Addabbo noted, casinos are a generator of significant chunk of the funds that go towards education in the Empire State. Sen. Addabbo did caution however that regulators and the governor would do well to reexamine the reopening plans and monitor and summarize progress every two weeks in the very least.
There were also a lot of protest actions that demanded the restart of, most famously of which was the Albany rally.