It's official: MGM gets approval to own and operate Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway

by Administrator

ALBANY - Let the games begin.

The state Gaming Commission on Monday approved a series of licenses to allow MGM Resorts to purchase Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway.

The commission's board, without discussion, approved MGM's licenses to own and operate the video-lottery terminal parlor and harness track, ending the ownership of the Rooney family.

The final purchase of the facility needs to close. That is expected Tuesday.

MGM announced in May it planned to buy Empire City and the racetrack for $850 million from the Rooneys, who have owned it since 1972.

“We appreciate the work of the New York Gaming Commission and the approval of our license," MGM said in a statement Monday.

"We couldn’t be more excited to become part of the Yonkers community and welcome Empire City’s 1,200 team members to the MGM Resorts family. MGM is looking forward to bringing another world-class entertainment destination to the Northeast.”

The deal was expected to be approved by the commission Jan. 3, but the meeting was unexpectedly canceled and no new meeting had been scheduled. Monday is its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

Barry Sample, the commission's chairman, praised the Rooneys for their tenure and welcomed MGM to New York.

He thanked the "Rooney family for the many years that they’ve contributed to the health of the harness racing industry in the state."

The approval gives MGM the reins to a massive racino with 5,300 machines just 15 miles from Times Square and the largest harness track in New York.

MGM is expected to want to build a hotel and entertainment venue on the site, as well as other amenities, but it hasn't detailed publicly what it wants to do.

The purchase comes as MGM has expanded its presence in the Northeast after opening MGM Springfield in Massachusetts last year, adding to its portfolio that also includes the Borgata in Atlantic City.

One of MGM's executives, Uri Clinton, will serve as president and COO of Empire City, the company announced last month.

MGM will also ultimately want a full-scale gaming license from the state to add table games, and it could wait for any major upgrades to the site until that issue is determined.

The state has a moratorium on new casinos until 2023, and it is uncertain whether the state would entertain lifting the ban.

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2019/01/28/empire-city-casino-yonkers-mgms-purchase-set-new-york-approval/2697811002/