Coronavirus fallout: Yonkers' Empire City Casino furloughs 1K workers

Monday 18th May 2020

Yonkers' Empire City Casino has furloughed about 1,000 employees, about 90% of its workforce, due to the coronavirus pandemic, documents show.

The indefinite furloughing of workers at one of the state's largest gambling facilities started in March as millions of Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

The casino represents the city's largest private employer with approximately 1,100 workers. It brought in around $50 million in revenue in February, but is now closed because of the pandemic.

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In a May 5 letter to staff, acting MGM CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle called the furloughs "the most challenging period ever faced by our company and industry."

MGM Resorts bought Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway in early 2019 for $850 million.

"Based on the current situation, we now believe that some of our colleagues may not return to work this year. And, given the continued uncertainty facing our industry, we simply don't know just how many employees will return to work within the coming months," the letter stated.

The letter went on to tell employees that "we understand you may find permanent employment elsewhere." It encouraged staff to do whatever is best for them and their families.

For employees who decide to stay with MGM, the company said that it has extended health benefits for furloughed employees who are enrolled in their health plans through Aug. 31. Furloughed employees were only previously guaranteed health care through June 30.

MGM has also partnered with companies such as Amazon, Walmart and CVS to provide temporary employment for MGM workers impacted by the closures.

It's unclear when the Empire City Casino will open, but the company said that it is looking forward to finding the appropriate time.

"We look forward to working with state government officials, including our regulators, to open at the appropriate time in a manner that is consistent with Federal, state and local guidance," MGM told The Journal News/lohud.

Joseph Spector, New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network, contributed to this report.

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