Schenectady

Reopening casinos should be reviewed on ‘individual basis,’ Cuomo says

Cuomo addressed the issued at his Monday press conference
A closed Rivers Casino as it appeared March 25
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A closed Rivers Casino as it appeared March 25

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — Immediately reopening “attractive nuisances” as the state begins to emerge from its shutdown is unlikely, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


But unlike concerts, sporting events and other large-scale attractions, the governor indicated the state will review reopening plans for casinos on a case-by-case basis.

“You’d have to look at the industry and how they’re going to conduct their business,” Cuomo said in his daily briefing on Monday. 

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Social distancing and monitoring will be “difficult,” Cuomo acknowledged. 

“But depending on the casino, it’s not impossible, but you’d have to look at it on an individual basis.”

In the first of the state’s proposed two-phase plan announced on Sunday, construction and manufacturing sectors could reopen by May 15 provided they adhere to proper precautionary safeguards. 

After two weeks to monitor potential spikes in the infection and hospitalization rates, other industries could follow based on balancing risk factors with how essential they are in providing services to the public. 

The state will take a regional approach, Cuomo said, with least affected regions opening earlier than their downstate counterparts. 

Cuomo warned against “attractive nuisances” on Monday:

“Attractive nuisances is a legal concept where you have a potentially dangerous situation that actually attracts people, normally children, to it,” he said. “We can’t open an attraction that might bring many people from outside the region and then overwhelm people in that region.”

Both Rivers Casino & Resort and Saratoga Casino Hotel in Saratoga Springs have been closed since mid-March following state directives.

Saratoga Casino Hotel said they are “working closely” with the state Gaming Commission to develop a reopen plan that “focuses on the safety of our guests, the community and our team members.”

“When the state and health organizations feel that the plan meets the necessary standards and protocols, we look forward to being able to reopen our doors,” said Amy Brannigan, a spokesperson. “Until then, we understand the measures being taken to ensure the safety and well-being of all.”

Rivers similarly said the “health and well-being of our team members and guests is our highest priority.”

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“Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady is currently developing a comprehensive reopening plan that will address crowd management, cleanliness, monitoring, isolation and social distancing so that we can provide a safe environment for everybody,” said Rivers spokesman Al Roney. 

Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city hasn’t had any recent discussions with company brass over a possible timeline for reopening, but is mindful of how Rivers Casino would fit into a strategy.

“It’s not going to open up with the level it was operating when it closed,” said McCarthy, who pointed at early state directives that ordered large-scale facilities to gradually reduce capacity before their total closure. 

“How do you allow some limited ramp-up within the facility that protects people, allows some economic activity to happen and plot a path forward that allows us to work through this health event?” McCarthy said on Monday.

The city is also exploring what possible reopening would look like in other sectors, including allowing restaurant patios to open.

City Hall is feeling a financial pinch from the loss of casino revenue, a gap that will become more pronounced the longer the riverfront facility remains shut. 

The city anticipated $2.8 million in revenues from the casino this year, McCarthy said, which means and two-month loss of revenue roughly amounts to 466,000. 

“Our numbers are going to be significant,” McCarthy said.

At 2.1 percent, the Capital Region has one of the lowest infection rates in the state, according to antibody tests conducted last week.

Nearly 25 percent of tests in New York City returned positive results, Cuomo said on Monday.

 

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