Yesterday, it was announced by MGM that it was in the process of acquiring the Empire City Casino, situated at Yonkers Raceway. The deal agreed upon stands at $850 million according to the report, but what could this mean for the online poker efforts taking place in New York at the moment?
As it stands, MGM has had an eye cast over the casino market in the Empire State for quite some time. However, upon the state authorising the construction of multiple new casinos in 2014 that were all located upstate rather than in the New York City area, MGM chose not to proceed with its interest. Of course, times change very swiftly, and with this acquisition of the Empire City Casino, MGM now possesses a casino establishment that is about 20 miles north of New York City.
The MGM addition actually bodes quite well for two sectors of gaming expansion which are currently on the New York Legislature’s outlook – online poker and sports betting. Some even believe that the purchase of the building by MGM is so that it can specifically provide online gambling and sports betting to players.
MGM Backs Online Poker for New York
At the present time, online poker and sports betting bills are being considered by state legislature, which makes the acquisition of the casino establishment by MGM seem more sensible. The company has actually stood as a long-time advocate for legal, online gaming in New York. In fact, despite the fact that MGM didn’t have any physical presence within New York at the time, it still launched a pro-online poker campaign back in 2014.
That campaign went on for about two years, attracting roughly 12,000 followers via Facebook and an additional 1,000 on Twitter. Furthermore, MGM launched its own online casino and poker room in New Jersey known as PlayMGM.com. This joined its online casino for the Nevada community. Additionally, MGM owns several land-based establishments within Nevada, Michigan and Massachusetts.
To combine with this, Yonkers exists as the home district of Gary Pretlow, operating as the chair for the Committee on Racing and Wagering. Empire City is, of course, about a 10-minute drive away from Mount Vernon, meaning that Pretlow has been active as a strong supporter of the casino itself. This has differed to the Assemblyman’s support when it comes to online poker over the years, which has gone through a back and forth period. Alas, there’s the potential for that to change with the purchase of the Empire City Casino by MGM. The difference now will be that MGM has actually voiced its strong support for sports betting and online poker in the state. The current owners of the property haven’t really stood up for anything relating to gambling in New York, whereas MGM has done so without having any kind of presence there.
Some believe that MGM won’t particularly take kindly to the fact that Pretlow has spent way too much time waffling on about the possibility of online poker in New York. Furthermore, the fact that he has come up with so many excuses when it comes to his obvious inability to push a poker bill through that has made its way swiftly past the Senate on two separate occasions.