Last week it was all about rallying for jobs stuck in furlough at del Lago Resort & Casino, as well as other commercial gaming facilities around New York. A week later, the same day another rally was planned in Seneca, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that commercial casinos would be allowed to reopen.
Native American-owned casinos in the state have been open-and-operating since mid-June, which was a major point of contention for local and state elected leaders.
Despite the good news about reopening, there will be logistical limitations in place. For example, occupancy of the facility will be limited to 25 percent. That will be monitored and regulated by the state’s gaming commission in the same way that the New York State Liquor Authority oversees bars and restaurants with a liquor license.
There will also be limitations on the kinds of games and activities that can take place inside a casino, assuming certain conditions are not met. For example, table games will not be allowed on the gaming floor, but if table games are to happen at del Lago in other spaces, the casino will need to construct dividers in between individual players at each table.
There will also be the requirement for an advanced air filtration system—the same kind that shopping malls were required to use for their reopening conditions.
Del Lago Resort & Casino General Manager Lance Young was upbeat about the announcement and opportunity to reopen. “Del Lago Resort & Casino is ready to open safely. We have comprehensive safety guidelines, known as our EXTRA CARE Program, to ensure the welfare of every guest and team member,” he said in a statement. “Del Lago Resort & Casino applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Gaming Commission for their leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, and we are thankful for their partnership in preparation to welcome back our team and guests. We look forward to opening our doors and bringing back economic benefits to the Finger Lakes.”
It is unclear at this point how many workers might be coming back to the facility. Around 1,100 workers were furloughed when the casino was forced to shut its doors in mid-March.
The rally that was planned for Waterloo happened, even though Governor Cuomo brought good news hours earlier. It covered a range of emotions for organizers, who talked about the effort of growing support on social media, countless hours spent rallying and making phone calls around New York, and working to bring thousands of workers back.
“The chamber supports you 100 percent,” Tom Murray said. He serves on the Chamber of Commerce’s board and is a business owner in Seneca County. “It’s the first positive step,” he added. “You should be championing that. In the tourism business we’ve done this. The Finger Lakes region is safe.”
Del Lago is a major tourism driver, but even with the casino closed for the last several months, businesses along the county’s lakes have been thriving. Some, like Murray’s, are even having better summer months than 2019.
“Stay the course and do the job he’s asking us to do,” Murray continued. “You want to go back to work? We’re all in this together. Let’s lead by safety, not instigation.”
Speaking to a crowd of approximately 50 people in Waterloo, one of the event’s organizers noted that the good news delivered on Thursday doesn’t mean the fight is over.
“Today we got some good news,” one of the lead organizers added. “We won. Don’t stop the fight. Don’t stop the positivity.”