New York City, State, And Tribal Governments All Play Part In COVID-19 Rules For Casinos

Written By Derek Helling on December 16, 2021 - Last Updated on September 8, 2022

If you’re looking for one standard answer to New York casino COVID-19 regulations, here it is: there is no uniform policy in this regard throughout the state. Local governments, including tribal gaming entities, have a degree of relevant authority.

The situation isn’t that complicated, however. It’s merely a matter of understanding which bodies hold the decision-making power and then following the appropriate guidance.

Who decides the New York casino COVID-19 rules?

The first distinction to understand is whether a casino you’re looking at patronizing is a commercial or tribal entity. New York is home to five Class III tribal casinos, including:

Under the terms of their gaming compacts, each of the governing tribes has independence in terms of deciding what COVID-19 protocols they will enforce. The Oneida Indian Nation, which operates Turning Stone, for example, just reinstituted a mask requirement and no smoking policy.

All patrons at Turning Stone will have to wear masks over their mouth and nose unless actively drinking, eating, or taking medication regardless of vaccination status. The same applies to all three Seneca properties and at the Akwesasne Mohawk.

None of the five casinos require proof of either a negative COVID-19 test or a COVID-19 vaccination to enter the property, though. The situation is similar at the state’s non-tribal Class III facilities.

Gov. Hochul in command at upstate commercial casinos

At the state’s four commercial Class III casinos, the state government holds the power. For instance, Gov. Kathy Hochul‘s current executive order applies to them.

That order gives businesses like the casinos a choice. They can either require proof of vaccination to enter or require all guests to wear face masks. The four NY commercial Class III casinos are:

  • del Lago Resort
  • Resorts World Catskills
  • Rivers Schenectady
  • Tioga Downs

In accordance with Gov. Hochul’s order, all four casinos are requiring all guests to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status. To date, none of them have opted to require proof of vaccination instead.

Naturally, there are more gaming facilities in NY than just the seven Class III locations. Their status along these lines is where the most deviation from one location to the next occurs.

What about bingo halls, racetracks, and slot parlors in NY?

In NY there are also many Class I and Class II gaming facilities. Both commercial and tribal interests operate these enterprises. Examples include:

  • Empire City Casino
  • Point Place Casino
  • Resorts World New York City

At these facilities, local orders can affect the protocols a great deal. For instance, Resorts World New York City falls under the jurisdiction of that city’s vaccination mandate.

All prospective players at that facility must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter. Point Place, which the Oneida Indian Nation operates, merely requires face masks.

For New Yorkers considering visiting a Class I or Class II facility, one piece of advice is sound. The best plan is to contact the facility you’re considering beforehand. The staff will advise you of the details of the current policy.

Governments are doing their best to mitigate risk while allowing businesses to stay open. Hopefully, the measures prove effective.

Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky / Associated Press
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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