Empire City in New York Undergoes Major Overhaul by MGM Resorts

At the end of November in 2023, MGM Resorts International announced its plans for Empire City Casino, should the property be awarded one of the three downstate New York gaming licenses. The licenses would allow the operation of slot machines, table games, and sports betting at the facility.

The company’s vision for Empire City Casino includes a complete overhaul of the property, with plans for an expanded gaming floor and the addition of a 5,000-seat entertainment venue in Yonkers. Other proposed amenities include a BetMGM Sportsbook, food and beverage outlets by renowned chefs, cocktail bars and lounges, and technologically advanced meeting facilities. MGM President and CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, expressed excitement about the potential project, stating that it would provide unparalleled experiences, create thousands of jobs, boost the state’s economy, and be a game-changer for the entire region.

Empire City is currently a video lottery terminal racino, but if awarded a full-scale casino license, MGM aims to transform it into a Las Vegas-style casino resort. The New York Gaming Facility Location Board is set to begin accepting applications for the three downstate casino licenses next year. These licenses were authorized through state legislation in 2013, with a 10-year moratorium to allow upstate casinos to open before granting licenses in the New York City region.

Empire City and Resorts World New York City are seen as front-runners for two of the casino licenses, while other leading casino companies are also preparing bids. If MGM’s proposal is successful, it is expected to substantially increase job numbers and tax revenue in Yonkers. The company touts Empire City as the city’s largest tax contributor and one of the largest private employers, and projects thousands of direct hires and over 10,000 anticipated indirect and induced jobs.

Empire City’s current gaming floor measures 160,000 square feet and offers 4,600 VLT and electronic table game positions. MGM plans to further expand the casino floor if awarded a license, but specific details on the expansion were not provided. Each downstate casino license carries a one-time $500 million fee, with winning companies required to spend an additional $500 million, at a minimum, on their resort projects.