MGM Is Now The Owner Of Empire City Casino In New York

MGM plans to get a full casino license for Empire City and launch sports betting with partners Boyd Gaming and GVC

MGM is coming to New York (credit: Oliver Pitzke
MGM has acquired the famous Empire City Casino in Yonkers, New York. The $850 million price gives MGM the chance to operate the fifth fully licensed casino in New York state.

Empire doesn’t yet have the full license, but plans to acquire one as soon as the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) decides to accept new applicants.

There are only four state-licensed casinos in New York:
  • The Del Lago casino
  • Tioga Downs
  • The Rivers Casino
  • Resorts World Catskills casino

The 2013 law which established the casinos limited applications to just four licensees, but MGM expects the NYGC to re-open applications for its historic property.

There is a lot of money riding on the gamble. MGM will pay an additional $50 million if Empire City is awarded a license for live table games on or prior to December 31, 2022 and MGM Resorts accepts such license by December 31, 2024.

Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts commented:

"Over the past three years, we have established a meaningful presence in the northeast with Borgata in Atlantic City, MGM National Harbor in Maryland, and MGM Springfield in Western Massachusetts. With this new addition to the MGM Resorts portfolio, we have now gained a foothold in the high-density New York City region and we look forward to leveraging the MGM platform to maximize value in this evolving marketplace"

New York gambling revenues are set to increase

New York is the fourth most populous state in the Union, featuring a population of 19.85 million. That makes it an important target for any casino group looking to benefit from the expansion of legal online gambling and sports betting.

This week, the NYGC approved draft regulations for sports betting. The four licensed casinos all have sports betting partners and are now gearing up for a launch in late Spring.

There is a debate still continuing as to whether mobile sports betting is permitted under the state constitution. If the legal advice suggests that it is, that too could begin in late 2019 or 2020. If not then we can expect a state referendum on the issue in 2020 with an implementation date sometime in 2023.

MGM is keen to get as much action as possible in the new sports betting industry. It has set up partnerships with Boyd Gaming and online experts GVC. Adding the possibility of launching live sports betting in New York is delighting its partners.

If online does launch, then MGM will be using the BetMGM brand that is already active in mobile sports betting in New Jersey and Nevada. If online poker comes to New York, MGM will use the partypoker brand.

Against this background, the purchase of Empire City takes on an extra strategic importance.

Empire City is in a prime location

Meanwhile Empire City will continue to service its existing customers. The casino sits on 97 acres only 15 miles from Times Square in Manhattan. 

Currently the Empire City features over 5,200 slot machines and electronic table games as well as blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat. The Empire City site includes the Yonkers Raceway, so horse race betting is equally popular in live and simulcast formats.

Timothy J. Rooney, President and CEO of Empire City Casino believes MGM will take the property to a new level:

“What's more, the potential for growth at Empire City has absolutely no boundaries. MGM will truly provide Empire City employees and the property's guests with the resources and opportunities to make the casino and track into something we haven't even yet realized. I cannot wait to see what's to come!"

Rooney’s family bought the Yonkers Raceway in 1972 and developed the Empire City casino in 2006.

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