Casinos can reopen, but supervisors hear concerns as workers face tough reality about capacity restrictions

It was a quick night for the Seneca County Board of Supervisors at their regularly scheduled meeting for the month of September – but it wasn’t without any major news.

Among the headlines to come out of the session – news that Del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre would reopen on Wednesday.

Board Chairman Bob Hayssen (R-Varick) said the casino would perform a ‘soft opening’ on Wednesday. He noted that it would take place at 2 p.m., but Del Lago had not made any official announcement until a promotional email went out Tuesday evening.

“We’re excited to announce that we have been approved to open tomorrow. Doors will open Wednesday, September 9th at 2pm. We’re excited to welcome you back, and want to convey a couple things before your arrival,” General Manager Lance Young said in that promotional message. “First, we would like to introduce our new program, Extra Care. This program outlines our new safety protocols and standards to ensure your safety. We have been very busy implementing all aspects including more rigorous standards and products for disinfecting the property, social distancing markers, additional hand sanitizing stations and more for your health and safety.”

The update included insight as to what capacity restrictions will look like at the casino.

“To be clear, this doesn’t mean that only 25% of our slot product will be available to be used. It means we will only admit a total of 25% of the gaming floor occupancy, which is approximately 1,700 guests,” Young added. “The number of gaming positions will be limited by the number of Slot Machines we can provide while maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet or separated with a physical barrier.”

He added in the message that things might ‘look a little different’ at first. The casino is executing a ‘phased reopening’, which means that certain amenities will be brought back slowly.

“We will continue to provide updates as amenities and services are made available.”

“They’re going to see how things go, and we wish them the best of luck with everything tomorrow,” Chairman Hayssen added during his remarks.

Valerie Licari-McIntyre, who represented Casinos Stand United, said there is a lot of work to be done.

“Although we understand that the County is losing massive revenue with casinos being closed. We’re looking at 5,200 casino workers on unemployment. With the decrease in unemployment [benefits], many of us are looking at upwards of $2,400 in loss of salary,” she explained. “Many of the casino workers have young children. They cannot maintain their living, so we need to push on.”

Licari-McIntyre addresses the Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s much more than Del Lago,” Licari-McIntyre continued. She estimated that 3,500 casino workers would still be jobless due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s restriction on operation at commercial gaming facilities across New York. “That’s sad. It’s extremely sad. Although we’re grateful the Governor allowed us to reopen at 25% capacity – that’s not much. We need to keep pushing.”

She says that if casinos were allowed to operate at 50% capacity – they would be able to cut the unemployment rate among those workers by that much or more.

“We have to push this forward. We will not stop pushing for the reopening of Del Lago. You need the revenue, we need the jobs.”

Licari-McIntyre said it’s unclear when she herself will be brought back to Del Lago.

Furloughed workers, officials gather for rally in front of Del Lago to reopen commercial casinos in New York