VERNON, N.Y. – Casinos across the state have been closed since March, and owners and employees have been anxiously awaiting guidance from the state on reopening – which finally came on Thursday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says private, non-tribal casinos can open at 25% capacity starting Wednesday, Sept. 9. Several tribal casinos already opened earlier in the summer, including Turning Stone Resort and Casino.
Tables will not be able to open until plastic barriers are put in place, and slot machines must be six feet apart on the gaming floor, unless there is a barrier between them.
The casinos must also meet air filtration requirements, make wearing masks mandatory, and refrain from serving beverages or food on the gaming floor.
Guidelines will be enforced by the New York State Gaming Commission.
On Monday, Sen. Joseph Griffo and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente urged the state to release guidance for casinos, so Vernon Downs Casino Hotel could reopen and bring more than 300 people back to work in the area.
Vernon Downs recently made the decision to close its racetrack early, because there wasn’t enough purse money left to fund the races. Owner Jeff Gural warned months ago that the casino was at risk of permanent closure if he was not able to open it by September. In July, he also had to send layoff notices to all employees under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.
Gural also owns Tioga Downs Casino Resort in Nichols.