MGM Resorts Earns Operational Approval from NYS Gaming Commission

Summary: A new stakeholder in the online poker and sports betting industry of New York is now in play, with the operational approval of MGM Resorts to take over two gaming venues in the state.

Earlier this week, the NYS Gaming Commission of New York decided to approve MGM Resorts to begin operating the Yonkers Raceway and the Empire City Casino. The licensing approval will allow the company to begin closing their $850 million purchase of the two properties.

MGM Resorts in New York

MGM Yonkers, Inc. was authorized by the Commission and they can now conduct several gaming activities. In the mix are harness racing, account wagering, simulcasting and video lottery gaming. Regulators were able to determine that the transactional elements offered by the company were in compliance so the operating can begin.

Chairman of the Commission, Barry Sample, has welcoming the MGM company to the community, thanking the former owners, the Rooney family, for their contribution to New York. The family has owned the facilities since 1972 and are also the owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

MGM Resorts now owns the 97 acre site, which is located near Times Square, the epicenter of New York City. The company will most likely look to offer more than what the two facilities have to offer currently, but what they plan on offering exactly is anyone’s guess.

As of right now, the venue offers 5,200 slot machines and electronic table games. There is also simulcast and live horse racing options. MGM has been working to enter the casino market of New York for quite some time. However, the company only wanted to operate in the state if they could find a location near New York City.

With the acquisition, Yonkers will be the only racetrack that MGM owns. The company is known for their entertainment destinations, so this will be a different operation for them. However, in the future, the property may turn into a full functioning casino and entertainment facility, if MGM has the ability to turn it into one.

Expansion Plans

MGM Resorts has already provided plans for expansion, with the terms of the acquisition requiring an additional $50 million to be paid if Empire City is given a license for live table games. This includes poker as well as blackjack, if licensing is given by the year 2023.

The 2023 year has significance. This is the timeline when the moratorium set for the New York Casino expansion is complete. This seven year time frame was given when the upstate casinos were authorized by the state. When the expiration date is met, it is believed that the state will be adding three more casinos in the area of New York City.

MGM will most certainly vie for licensing. They will already be located in the region and at the MGM Yonkers property, they would be set up to offer casino gaming near the accepted area of the state. With a facility already in place, the brand would be able to get a land-based casino up and running in no time.

The MGM company is one of the largest gaming companies in the world with more than ample resources. They could easily move quickly with a timeline for completion of a fully operational casino. The location of the facility is also located in the district of Gary Pretlow, an Assemblyman who is for gambling expansion in the state.

There is no doubt that Pretlow would push for MGM and the company would certainly be set up for success if they were allowed full service casino gaming.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.