WKTV - After nearly six months of an indefinite closure, due to the coronavirus pandemic, casinos in the state have been given the green light to reopen.
Governor Cuomo announced that casinos can open September 9.
This reopening guidance is for non-tribal casinos like Vernon Downs. Tribal casinos were allowed to open earlier this summer.
“It was a big relief,” said Jeff Gural, Owner of Vernon Downs. “We have a lot to do but we've been thinking about it. I'm not sure we're going to open on the ninth but it'll be next week sometime.”
Governor Cuomo says that table games will not be allowed until the casino puts some physical barriers between the players and the Gaming Commission would have to approve of the physical barriers. Currently none of the casinos in New York have them in place, according to the Governor.
Casinos will be limited to 25% capacity which will be managed at the door by security. There will have to be six feet between machines that are usable unless there's a physical barrier between machines.
The Gaming Commission will be the enforcement agency. State police also have jurisdiction over all casinos in the state.
Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural says that shouldn't be an issue.
“Luckily Vernon has a pretty small place so it's pretty easy to operate safely there. Most of the time we only use maybe 25%, most of the time,” said Gural.
Late August, Vernon Downs’ furloughed employees held a rally calling on the Governor to give them guidance. Gural is thankful that they can now return to work.
“Very grateful that they did it. When they came to me with the idea I told him I thought it was a good idea because nobody likes to see people out of work. I'm going to test all of our employees over the next week or so. I'm going to add some additional air filtration equipment but we already change the filters,” said Gural.
Gural says he is also going to open the hotel with additional cleaning protocols.
The reopening benefits Vernon Downs Race Track's income which is mostly generated by slot machine revenue. Gural did announce that the race track is closing early for the season, towards the end of September, but hopes that business from the casino will help them stay open.