While many of the nation’s casinos reopened in June, New York casinos and racinos remained closed for safety reasons. Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ready to announce a reopening date for the shuttered gambling venues.
Due to the large number of coronavirus deaths in New York, most casinos did not reopen along with the ones in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and beyond. The operators of the closed New York casinos have criticized the governor’s decision to keep them closed in light of the fact that several tribal casinos in New York have reopened. Six upstate New York tribal casinos opened for business in June with limited capacity, and Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in Connecticut also opened in June.
Atlantic City casinos reopened in July, and the New York State casino operators aren’t happy to be left holding the bag. According to the casino operators, thousands of jobs would be lost if the casinos are not reopened soon. The governor is sensitive to their concerns but weighing public safety with commerce is not an easy balancing act. Gov. Cuomo closed all ‘non-essential’ businesses to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over 25,000 people in New York State.
“I understand their point, I understand their economic reality, I understand the feeling that you see other places opening up but you still can’t go back to work,” Cuomo said. “We will have an announcement next week. It is going to be positive news.”
Massive Budget Deficits
Most of the casinos in question are in Nassau and Suffolk counties, which rely heavily on gambling revenue to balance their books. Since the casinos in question have been closed since March, the counties are expecting massive budget deficits in 2020. New York State establish Off-Track Betting corporations (OTBs) to provide revenue for counties operating racetracks and racinos in New York State.
Without the regular flow of gambling revenue, counties and their citizens suffer vital revenue to keep the infrastructure running. Suffolk OTB has generated $359 million for state and local taxpayers through their horse racing corporation. One of the most successful casinos in New York, Jake’s 58, is already preparing for reopening.
Jake’s 58 casino is regularly deep cleaned rigorously, and the air in the facility is passed through high-quality filters. Visitors will be required to wear masks, practice social distancing, and undergo temperature checks upon entering the casino. They will also need to provide identification for contact tracing in case of an outbreak of COVID-19.
Jake’s has 200 workers who been furloughed for months and they are ready to get back to work. Casino openings must be carefully managed, because without the proper planning, outbreaks could occur as they did in Las Vegas, forcing stricter rules and regulations.
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