New York Casinos Face New COVID-19 Restrictions

When the COVID-19 outbreak began, the state of New York was one of the hardest hit. Tens of thousands of people were affected by the virus with New York City at virtually a standstill. The state was able to get a handle on the influx of cases due to heavy restrictions put in place by Governor Andrew Cuomo. At the time, everything was shut down, from casinos to bars and shops. Eventually, places started reopening, but still with restrictions in place. Now, it seems the case count is up again and the governor has instituted new restrictions. Bars and restaurants of casinos as well as across the state, must close in-person service from 10pm until 5am each day.

Beginning Today

The new restrictions come into effect on Friday, November 13. Commercial casinos and racetracks are affected by the closures. New York has four commercial casinos and eight racetracks in operations. The race tracks provide video gaming options while the commercial venues provide a full scale experience.

Michael Kane, the New York Gaming Association executive director and president spoke to this week, stating that the announcement does not impact the casinos in a major way. They will only be limiting the hours for bars and restaurants.

In the state, all restaurants and bars must ask patrons to leave at 10pm. Kitchens of eateries can remain open after 10pm, but only for deliveries.

Is another Major Lockdown in the Future?

Right now in New York State, positive case counts are up. In New York City, the average positivity rate over a seven day period is up just over 2.5%. This is the highest the rate has been since June. If the new changes do not help lower the rate, Governor Cuomo is open to even tighter restrictions. This could include all indoor dining coming to a stop.

While that might not seem like a big deal, it really is. Many businesses have already been impacted by a previous closure and having to shut doors again would mean even more losses and possibly permanent closures.

For casinos, food service is important. Players make a day or a night of visiting a casino, with gaming and dining. Without the dining aspect, players might not stick around as long or spend as much money. Plus if the governor is willing to shut down dining, he would also probably be willing to close the casinos again.

The casinos and other nonessential businesses first closed by in March. Gradually, businesses were allowed to open back up, but casinos had to wait the longest. Officials were worried about how players would behave and if there would be large crowds of people gathered around slots and table games.

The changes in New York come at a time when similar restrictions were put in place in neighboring New Jersey. Lounges, bars, clubs and restaurants must stop services at 10pm here and cannot resume until 5am. Casinos are included in this rule change and efforts have already been made to ensure that such services will be shut down at the set times.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

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