New York was one of the worst parts of the country when the coronavirus outbreak began. Now, things are getting worse as over 5,000 casino employees in upstate New York are expecting to receive layoff notices due to casinos staying closed.
Almost all of the casino workers facing layoffs are already furloughed since the state’s “commercial” or non-Indian gaming operations have been closed since March due to executive orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.
The layoffs will most likely take effect starting in September unless casinos are allowed to reopen before then. Most of New York’s Indian casinos have reopened as Gov. Cuomo is holding to open commercial casinos.
Commercial Casino Workers Furloghed
Casinos have been closed since the start of COVID-19, which began in March. Casino workers have been put on furlough since mid-April and have been there since. Gov. Cuomo has not announced when casinos will be allowed to reopen as the New York gaming industry has been hit hard.
Layoff notices have been sent to the four commercial casinos in the state and also include the Resorts World New York City at the Aqueduct Racetrack. The five locations will tally close to 5,200 employees being laid-off.
Federal law requires large employers to issue WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notices when a furlough or layoff is reasonably expected to stretch beyond the six-month mark, which is considered an “employment loss.” With New York’s private casinos remaining shut down, the casinos issued the notices Monday, warning employees that the layoffs could extend beyond six months or, in some cases, become permanent.
This will at least give employees until September or October to come up with a plan if they are laid off unless New York’s private casinos are allowed to reopen again.
The casinos and racetracks warning of layoffs are:
– Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, Sullivan County affecting 1,256 employees
– Resorts World New York City at the Aqueduct Racetrack affecting 955 employees
– Tioga Downs (west of Binghamton) and Vernon Downs (near Utica) affecting 900 employees
– Rivers Casino in Schenectady affecting around 1,000 employees
– del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, Seneca County affecting 1,100 employees
Where Do New York Casinos Go Next?
There is not much New York’s private casinos can do right now. Casinos, malls, and movie theaters were excluded from Phase 4 of the state’s four-phase reopening plan as the state remained wary of the impact large-scale air-conditioning systems could have on the spread of the virus.
This hurts casinos as there is no telling when they will be able to reopen. The only hope would be if cases continue to drop in New York, and Cuomo feels like it is safe for these places to allow people.
One possible way casinos can save their industry would be if mobile sports betting became legal. New York legalized sports betting, but has left out mobile betting. The betting laws have hurt casinos, especially during this time, as the state cannot generate revenue from them.
Sports betting could help revive the industry as well as keeping people working. The only issue is that mobile betting would be able to become legal overnight, and the process could drag into 2021. However, if the coronavirus is not under control, then mobile betting could be a possibility to help casinos get through the pandemic.