Casino Industry Continues to Recover

The casino industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and at one time almost every property throughout the United States was shut down. Now that the country has seen the numbers head in the right direction, almost the entire casino business is now back open.

New York was one of the last to loosen the restrictions placed on casinos, but now the entire state is back open. The Empire City Casino reopened this weekend, and it was the last in New York State to remain closed.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly shut down all nonessential businesses in early March as the state was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the summer, Cuomo started to allow some of these businesses to reopen, but he kept the casino industry shut down.

On September 9, Cuomo announced that casinos and racetracks throughout the state could reopen, but they could only operate at 25 percent capacity. Most properties were suffering financially, and the governor was hoping to provide some relief.

A number of the casinos were able to reopen on September 9, while others took some additional time to train staff on the new health and safety mandates. Table games for example, cannot be offered unless there are physical barriers in place to enforce social distancing.

There are four commercial casinos in the state of New York to go along with eight race tracks that offer video gaming. Empire City is one of the race tracks in the state, and that facility was one that took additional time to get things set up.

Vegas Not Quite All the Way Back

Las Vegas, was actually allowed to reopen their casinos much earlier than New York, but not everything in Sin City is back operational. Some major companies have kept properties closed in an effort to keep the spread of the COVID-19 virus to a minimum.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak allowed casino properties to reopen on June 4 after facing extreme political pressure. The state was also staring at a huge budget deficit as the casino industry is the biggest source of revenue in the state.

ParkMGM and NoMad in Las Vegas, two MGM properties, have not reopened yet but they are scheduled to do so on September 30. ParkMGM will implement an additional safety measure as it will become the first casino on the Las Vegas strip to ban smoking.

Planet Hollywood and the Cromwell have yet to reopen as well, and the two Caesars Entertainment properties will likely be the last in the state to do so. Planet Hollywood is set to reopen on October 8, according to a post on Instagram.

Restrictions/Safeguards Remain in Place

Even though almost all of the casinos throughout the United States have reopened, they are operating under new safeguards. The biggest restriction is on the number of guests that are allowed inside at one time, and that has kept revenue down throughout the industry.

Both New York and Nevada require guests and employees to wear masks inside of the casinos, and heavy fines can be levied for properties that do not follow these mandates. Employees at most locations are also required to undergo testing or have their temperature scanned before entering the facility.

Both Governor Sisolak and Governor Cuomo have noted that they will not hesitate to shut the casino industry back down if there is another surge in COVID-19 cases. Both states need the revenue that comes from the gaming industry, but the governors cannot afford to let the numbers head in the wrong direction again.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.