MGM Unveils Plans To Redevelop NYC Racino Into A Full-Scale Casino

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on December 1, 2023
MGM Empire City At Night Exterior Rendering

MGM Resorts International unveiled its visualization of transforming Empire City Casino into MGM Empire City. That is if the operator receives a New York commercial casino license for its historic Yonkers site.

According to the company’s press release, key elements of the phase one design will include:

  • A comprehensive casino floor redevelopment and expansion
  • 5,000-capacity entertainment venue
  • Modern BetMGM sportsbook
  • Food and beverage outlets by celebrated chefs
  • Cocktail bars and lounges
  • Technologically advanced meeting spaces

MGM is only one of many competitive proposals in the race for one of three New York casino licenses.

MGM Empire City - Casino Walk Up Bar Rendering
MGM Empire City – Casino Walk Up Bar Rendering

MGM’s transformation plan for a New York casino

Empire City Casino, located in the Yonkers region of New York, features the largest casino floor in the company’s portfolio. It has been running video lottery terminals and electronic table games since 2006, while its historic Yonkers Raceway has been operating since 1899.

Bill Hornbuckle, president and CEO of MGM Resorts, said in a news release:

“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.”

The US gambling giant has big plans to transform that site into a much larger venue. As Hornbuckle further commented: “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.”

MGM Empire City - Casino Center Bar Rendering
MGM Empire City – Casino Center Bar Rendering

The full-scale commercial casino will include:

  • Live-dealer table games
  • Newest slot machines
  • A high-limit gaming area

The design features the addition of several new destination dining experiences, with:

  • A modern steakhouse
  • A casual, quick-serve Italian-American experience
  • An authentic Asian noodle bar and eatery

Existing venues like the Big Kitchen food court and The Pub sports bar will also transform into new food concepts. The proposal also includes the development of a new parking garage.

The entertainment venue will host A-list performers and events in a 5,000-capacity setting with unrivaled views, innovative acoustics and dedicated amenities.

Entertainment Venue - 4 Luxury Box View
MGM Empire City – Entertainment Venue Rendering – 4 Luxury Box View

Introducing the BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge

A commercial casino license in New York will also enable MGM Empire City to offer The BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge.

The gaming space will feature lively game-day experiences. Sports enthusiasts will be offered:

  • 112-foot wrap-around LED screen
  • Stadium seating
  • VIP zones
  • Multiple betting kiosks
  • Food and beverage setups

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MGM faces fierce competition in the New York casino license race

MGM is one of many US gambling entities eager to secure one of the remaining three commercial casino licenses in New York.

In January, the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board issued a Request for Applications to solicit proposals for a gaming venue in the state. As confirmed, two racinos will each receive a license:

  1. Empire City Casino (Yonkers)
  2. Resorts World New York City (Jamaica, Queens)

That leaves one NY commercial casino license up for grabs.

Billionaire and New York Mets owner Steven Cohen has also entered the race with plans to turn parking lots around the Citi Field ballpark into a casino resort.

Caesars, SL Green and Jay-Z-founded Roc Nation also applied for a NY casino license. They plan to put a casino at 1515 Broadway near Times Square.

Other companies interested in obtaining a NY casino license include Hard Rock International, Bally’s, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Co.

Photo by MGM Resorts International
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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