The state of New York is starting to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, but a number of non-essential businesses remain closed. Among the list are casinos, and Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to keep all of them closed throughout the state.
The commercial casinos in the state employ thousands of people, and the state is seeing a huge unemployment rate due to these closures. Lawmakers and business leaders have urged Cuomo to allow casinos to reopen, but he has yet to cater to their wishes.
12 of the 13 tribal casinos have been able to reopen during the pandemic as they are not forced to follow state guidelines or orders from the governor. The 12 commercial casinos in the state have yet to open their doors, and there is no timetable for this to happen.
Across the country, 843 of the 990 commercial and tribal casinos have been able to reopen, but that isn’t the case in New York. Michigan has also yet to allow casinos to reopen either, but they announced that they could reopen next week.
The Department of Labor in New York has received WARN notices from six of the 12 commercial casinos in the state. More than 5,300 workers have been furloughed due to the casino closures, and a number of casinos believe these closures will span more than six months.
New York, and neighboring New Jersey, were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning, but they have seen the numbers drop significantly over the last few weeks. Other states have seen a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases as they have started to reopen businesses.
The state of New York is reopening its economy in phases, but casinos are not a part of the initial phases of the plan. Shopping malls are still closed in New York City, but they have been able to open up throughout the state at a limited capacity.
Cuomo Selling Industry Short
Now that shopping malls have been allowed to reopen in New York, many in the industry are questioning why casinos aren’t able to do the same. Part of the reason is that Governor Cuomo does not feel that casinos are “essential,” and he also questions their ability to follow guidelines and regulations.
Movie theaters and gyms are also unable to reopen as a part of the governor’s plan, and other lawmakers are questioning what types of businesses should be classified as essential. Cuomo is facing some heavy opposition with this decision, and it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next few weeks.
Expanded Gaming Not Likely Either
Lawmakers in the state have been trying to create bills to expand the gaming industry in the state, but Governor Cuomo has not supported any of the proposals. His decision to keep casinos closed even as the coronavirus numbers are shrinking in the state is another example of his desire to keep gaming the way it is.
New York does allow for retail sports betting, but mobile sports betting is still illegal throughout the state. There was hope that the state would be able to change the laws, but again Governor Cuomo does not support this.
Cuomo believes that a referendum would have to be passed in order to legalize mobile sports betting, and an amendment would be needed to the New York State Constitution. Other lawmakers disagree, but nothing appears imminent in terms of mobile sports betting.
New York is starting at a budget deficit of more than $30 billion, and this is largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state relies on tax dollars from gross gaming revenue, and they have not been able to generate any income during the pandemic.