MGM Resorts International has revealed its plan in a bid for one of the three available New York downstate casino licenses. The operator detailed its plan to transform its Empire City Casino, a slots-only racino in Yonkers, into a resort dubbed MGM Empire City.
Many believe two of New York’s three available downstate licenses will go to the current racinos, Empire City and Genting’s Resorts World New York City in Queens. However, others believe those venues would not provide a sufficient number of new jobs and new investment, since plans would essentially add on to existing facilities.
New York’s requirements for the downstate licenses include a minimum investment of $500 million, and a $1 million license fee. Although MGM has not revealed the cost of its proposed Yonkers project, the company laid out an elaborate plan for a world-class gaming and entertainment destination.
Key elements of the phase-one design include a comprehensive casino floor redevelopment and expansion, a 5,000-capacity entertainment venue, a state-of-the-art BetMGM sportsbook, food and beverage outlets by celebrated chefs, cocktail bars and lounges, technologically advanced meeting spaces and more.
MGM’s plan would constitute a complete redevelopment of Empire City from its current video lottery terminal racino into a full-scale commercial casino with live-dealer table games, the newest slot machines and a high-limit gaming area. The design includes the addition of several new destination dining experiences, including a modern steakhouse, a casual quick-serve Italian American experience and an authentic Asian noodle bar and eatery.
Existing venues Big Kitchen food court and The Pub sports bar will also transform into new, high-end food concepts. The plan also includes development of a new parking garage providing visitors with direct and convenient access to the casino and its amenities.
The entertainment venue would be the first of its kind in the region, hosting A-list performers and events in a 5,000-capacity setting with unrivaled views, cutting-edge acoustics and dedicated amenities. MGM Resorts is already the third-largest ticket seller for live performances in the United States, with the capacity to seat more than 100,000 people a night across entertainment venues around the world.
“MGM Empire City’s entertainment venue will boost the region’s economy, attracting new events to the market and bringing together locals and tourists alike,” the company said in a press release.
A commercial casino license would also enable MGM Empire City to introduce The BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge, offering guests lively game-day experiences with a 112-foot wrap-around LED screen, stadium seating, VIP areas, multiple betting kiosks and food and beverage operations.
“MGM Resorts has a long and proud history of delivering world-class entertainment and gaming experiences, and we couldn’t be more excited to build on that track record at MGM Empire City,” said Bill Hornbuckle, president and CEO of MGM Resorts. “A full-scale casino and entertainment destination will provide unparalleled experiences, create thousands of jobs, boost the state’s economy, and be a game-changer for the entire region.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “This is a momentous opportunity for the city of Yonkers, and I’m excited for the future, knowing the development of MGM Empire City will create thousands of good-paying union jobs and the economic growth that will ensure our city continues to flourish and prosper. Already drawing millions of guests annually, this development plan will solidify Empire City’s status as a premier entertainment destination.
“Generations of Yonkers residents have worked at, enjoyed, and supported this historic property for 125 years, and I am excited about the significant impacts this project will have for residents now and for the next 125 years.”
Ed Domingo, general manager of Empire City Casino, said, “When MGM Resorts acquired Empire City Casino in 2019, we knew we were becoming stewards of a historic institution that has served generations of New Yorkers as a gathering place for entertainment, a source of jobs for the community, and a driver of economic development. As MGM Resorts prepares to enter its sixth year at the helm of this iconic property, we are excited to be able to combine the knowledge we have developed of the New York market with our expertise as a global entertainment brand, to bring the next chapter of New York’s entertainment landscape to the incredible community we are part of.”
Empire City boasts the largest casino floor in the company’s domestic portfolio at 160,000 square feet and is also one of the largest gaming floors in the country. It has been operating since October 2006 with video lottery terminals and electronic table games under its current lottery license. The site is also home to the historic Yonkers Raceway, a world-renowned horse racing harness track that has been operating since 1899. The company has committed to continuing racing operations and recently made significant investments in track renovations.