MGM Resorts International has closed its deal to purchase the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, New York. MGM is paying $850 million for the property, which includes the building itself and nearly 100 acres of land.
The land represents additional areas that MGM could develop or expand the existing property. Yonkers borders New York City to the north, and the casino is only 15 miles from Times Square.
The property also includes a harness racing track. MGM received permission to continue offering races, which is a necessity to offer real money slot machines under New York law.
“We are pleased to welcome the 1,200 employees at Empire City Casino to the MGM Resorts family,” said MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, in a press release. 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.”
With New York casino, MGM establishing a grip on northeast
MGM now owns four properties in the crowded northeastern section of the country.
Last year, the casino giant completed construction and debuted the $960 million MGM Springfield in Massachusetts. MGM opened MGM National Harbor in the Baltimore, Maryland area in 2016. That same year, the company also bought out partner Boyd Gaming to assume complete control of Atlantic City‘s Borgata.
Company management clearly intends the Yonkers property to strengthen awareness and marketing for the other properties. In an email to Mass Live, MGM Springfield President and CEO Michael Mathis said:
“The Empire City Casino acquisition in Yonkers is designed to tap into the underserved NY market, which will complement the MGM Springfield market. MGM’s unmatched East Coast presence in major markets allows for significant cross marketing and customer loyalty programming that offer us a clear competitive edge.”
Pennsylvania is a notable exception to MGM’s reach
These four properties certainly establish the casino giant’s presence in New England. However, MGM has, so far, failed to acquire a foothold in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania remains a high-value target to the company for two reasons. For one thing, Pennsylvania is the fifth-most populous state in the country, second only to New York in the region.
Secondly, and more importantly, Pennsylvania is now a sports betting state. In fact, the Keystone State is the most populous state out of the eight to offer wagering on sporting events.
The debut of online sports betting in Pennsylvania is also fast approaching along with gambling in the state. The potential for engaging the entire adult portion of the state is too great to ignore.
MGM does not have a property in Pennsylvania. As such, it is on the outside looking in for licensure by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).
However, the company, for its part, has gained PGCB approval as a qualified gaming entity. This certification allows the company to apply for an online gaming license. However, the company must still present its case to the board for approval to debut a site.
Unfortunately, the PGCB has not allowed outside entities to go after sports betting licenses. So, unless MGM can reach a similar deal to the Yonkers acquisition with one of PA’s 12 casinos, the company won’t be able to tap that burgeoning market.