MGM International is Going From Racing to Roulette

MGM Resorts International unveils big plans for Empire City. By David McKee

In a bold bid to capture one of New York City’s three forthcoming casino licenses, MGM Resorts International revealed its concept for the transformation of Empire City Yonkers racino on Nov. 30. The revamped casino resort will be called, if a license is granted, MGM Empire City.

It’s much more than a change of name. It’s a bid to reshape Empire City into an entertainment destination, not just a place to watch the ponies and have a flutter. The casino floor will be completely redone and expanded, while a 5,000-seat concert hall will be added. Also on the drawing boards are restaurants and bars, an up-to-date BetMGM sports book, stateof-the-art convention and meeting spaces, plus the touches that only celebrity chefs can provide.

VLTs out, VIPs in

Out will go the video lottery terminals that currently stud the Empire City Yonkers casino floor. In will come table games, cutting-edge slot machines and high limit gambling for VIPs. With a casino license, MGM will be able to augment the casino with a high-tech sports book crowned by a 112-foot, wraparound LED screen. Stadium seating, F&B service, high-roller seating and betting kiosks will further augment the sporting experience.

Already Empire City boasts MGM’s largest domestic casino floor: 160,000 square feet, one of the most capacious in the U.S. Players and employees have racked up over 17 years of experience there since it opened for business in October 2006 with electronic table games and VLTs. The gambling experience is augmented by Yonkers Raceway, one of the country’s premier harness-racing tracks.

The 125-year-old oval will remain open and operational after the racino becomes a megaresort.

MGM says the planned concert venue will be a first for the area, capable of the best in acoustical presentation and unparalleled sight lines. The company’s goal is to present A-list performers and events, providing an economic boost to the surrounding region. The hope is to bring new performers to the area, and unite both residents and tourists.

F&B offerings will be distinguished by “new destination dining experiences.” These include a modern steakhouse, a casual, quick-serve Italian American experience, and an Asian noodle bar and eatery. Sadly for some, existing food outlets Big Kitchen food court and The Pub sports bar will go away, but new, high-end eateries will arise in their place.

MGM’s master plan also includes what will be a very welcome amenity: a new parking garage. This will be intended to make the arrival experience significantly better, as well as to provide more direct, more convenient access to the gaming floor.

A regional game-changer

Reflecting on all the planned upgrades, MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said, “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. 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.”

Hornbuckle’s enthusiasm was seconded by Empire City General Manager Ed Domingo, who said, “As MGM Resorts prepares to enter its sixth year at the helm of this iconic property, we are excited to be able to combine the knowledge we have developed of the New York market with our expertise as a global entertainment brand, to bring the next chapter of New York’s entertainment landscape to the incredible community we are part of.” Empire City is already a significant economic engine for the great Yonkers area, north of New York City proper. It spends scores of millions of dollars locally on goods and services, not to mention the taxes it pays to New York State. And the latter will be looking for a major taxpaying partner when it chooses the winning casino bids.

That tradition would be extended at an MGM Empire City, which would hire in the thousands, not counting the indirect job growth that would be spurred by having a megaresort in the area. As it is, MGM is the number-one taxpayer in Yonkers, a status that will be further reinforced by the hoped-for upgrade.

MGM estimates that the Empire City license alone, if granted, will generate $1 billion in regional economic activity.


MGM International is Going From Racing to Roulette was first seen on Casino Life Magazine