New York Governor Hints at Casino Openings, as Gaming Employees Prepare to Work
With New York’s governor saying he’ll announce “positive” news this week about casinos, workers are eager to have their jobs back, a New York Gaming Association official told Casino.org.
The association represents eight video-only sites, such as racetracks, called “racinos.” Four commercial casinos also operate in the Empire State. They are not represented by the association, but abide by the same state rules and regulations, said Michael Kane, New York Gaming Association executive director.
In a conference call with reporters on Sunday, Aug. 30, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he’ll have an announcement about casinos this week that “is going to be positive news,” according to the Long Island newspaper Newsday.
In mid-March, with COVID-19 deaths surging, the governor directed casinos and other “nonessential” businesses to close. Since then, Cuomo has permitted some businesses, including gyms and fitness centers, to reopen with safety precautions in place. He has not set a date for when he will allow casinos to begin operating again. Sunday’s statement was the first indication that a green light might be coming soon.
The state faces a $600 million shortfall from lost gaming tax revenue during the fiscal year that began April 1. State budget officials expect to cover that amount from the general fund, but say they will need federal help for an overall $14.5 billion shortfall.
The Empire State’s tribal casinos, which do not fall under state jurisdiction, are open.
Finding a Balance
During the past few weeks, casino employees have rallied at the Capitol in Albany and elsewhere, urging the governor to let them get back to work. A rally at the Capitol on Aug. 20 attracted about 50 protesters, some carrying signs as they marched during the midday event that lasted more than an hour. A Change.org petition calling for casinos to be reopened had about 3,900 signatures by Monday.
In the weekend conference call with reporters, Cuomo said the state has been “trying to find a balance” when it comes to reopenings, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.
A total of about 10,000 gaming employees work in the commercial casinos and video-only venues across the state, the state Gaming Association president told Casino.org.
Kane said gaming venues upon reopening will implement safety protocols, including mask-wearing, social-distancing, and other measures.
“Our folks are prepared,” he told Casino.org.
Low Infection Rate
Also this weekend, Cuomo announced that the coronavirus infection rate has been below 1 percent statewide for 23 straight days. Hospitalizations on Sunday dropped to 429, “a new low since March 16,” the governor said.
“The state is doing extraordinarily well, and again, kudos to all New Yorkers, because there’s no mystery as to how this happens,” Cuomo said. “It’s a social action and it’s the community of the people of the state of New York acting out of mutuality and concern for one another.”
Statewide, more than 30,000 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.