New York Casino Workers Hold Rally at State Capitol

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Last week, commercial casino workers rallied outside of the state Capitol asking if Gov. Andrew Cuomo could reopen the facilities. Casino workers said their livelihoods are at stake.

Although casino workers want the places open, Cuomo believes that casino could become another breeding ground for COVID-19. They along with theaters and other larger entertainment areas remain closed right now. Cuomo believes the density and compliance are two big issues he has with the reopenings.

If Cuomo has an idea of how to open a casino without increasing the chances of spreading COVID-19 then he would do it in a heartbeat.

Casino Closures

Casinos are one of the unlucky ones when it comes to reopening during a pandemic. All non-essential business was closed in New York as one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S. Now, some business is open except for movie theaters, large entertainment venues, and casinos.

New York is keeping up with the data on the coronavirus infection rate in New York and making sure it is 100 percent safe to reopen.

“Casinos remain closed along with similar activities across the state as they invite congregation among customers in proximity to each other while eating and drinking, activities that don’t allow for consistent mask-wearing,” said Freeman Klopott, spokesman for the state Budget Division.

Over 4,100 workers received layoff notices last month. This included Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Rivers Casino Resorts World Catskills, and Resorts World New York City.

Workers expressed their concerns at Thursday’s rally, saying they simply want more state guidance on when they might be able to get back to their jobs.

Commcercial vs Tribal

New York Indian casinos are fortunate to reopen. Tribal casinos are not tied to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders. This allows them to operate freely, although Cuomo keeping commercial casinos closed within the state. The news also comes at a time when the four New York private casinos announced that there would be layoffs coming this fall if they remain closed past September.

Although the tribes are not tied to the executive orders, their health and safety guidelines are similar to what New York has in place. Following the guidelines will help keep customers safe and reduce the risk of spreading of COVID-19.

Some of the safety protocols, like at Oneida Casino in Verona, New York, put in are mandatory face coverings for employees, guests, and vendors. Gloves are required for all employees who are working in direct contact with guests and daily non-invasive thermal temperature checks of every employee.

The restaurants and bars will also have at least six feet of separation between tables. Buffets or other self-service food options will remain closed, and there will be no food service in any of the Players’ Lounges or banquet rooms.

The Oneidas Casino protocols will also include enhanced cleaning measures, HVAC air changeover levels will be maintained at a significantly greater capacity, and will cancel all shows due to potential mass gatherings in the event center. They will also not allow guests who are coming from 22 states listed in their guidelines.