'We are essential': Workers urge Cuomo to allow NY casinos to reopen

by Administrator
in People

But we are closed and the eight tribal casinos are not. Neither are the casinos in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio. Everybody who would ordinarily be going to my casinos in an area where nobody is sick is now going to other casinos in areas where there are far more people testing positive than in upstate New York,"  said Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural.

Roughly 5,200 casino employees in New York  are waiting to learn when they will be allowed to return to work. New York's four commercial casinos and several racinos have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Over the past five months, there has been no indication when the casinos and racinos can open. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on July 30 that casinos remain closed because it's "an issue of density, the likelihood of compliance and the essential nature of the business." 

Simply, the casinos are considered nonessential businesses. 

"You don't need a casino to maintain survival," Cuomo said. 

Casino employees agree that they want to reopen safely. Del Lago developed a reopening plan that is based on federal and state health guidelines. Face coverings would be required, employees and guests would be screened before entering the casino and there would be limited capacity on the gaming floor. 

In New York, the Oneida Nation reopened its three casinos in June. The Seneca Nation in the Buffalo area began reopening its casinos around the same time. At the tribal casinos in New York, there hasn't been a significant increase in COVID-19 infections. 

With that data from tribal casinos in New York, along with minimal infections reported at casinos in other states, the casino employees think they can resume operations.