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by The BCW

The Yonkers Times, 3/28/2021

On March 26, New York labor leaders led a virtual rally to demonstrate growing support for a full gaming license and access to mobile sports betting for Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts, touting its benefits for Yonkers, the Bronx, and the greater Westchester region.

With labor unions supporting the expansion at MGM-Yonkers, adding to the support of community groups and elected officials on the local and county level, the question now for state elected officials and the Governor is, what is holding this up?

“Think of all of the additional union jobs this would create for the building and construction trades men and women,” said Thomas Carey, President of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body. “A full-scale license means the transition would happen immediately, so we would start to see all of this impact for our unions, and our communities, very quickly.”

 Since its launch in early March, membership in the “A Sure Bet for New York’s Future” Alliance has increased more than twofold, with nearly 60 labor unions, businesses, faith-based and community organizations joining forces in support of a pathway for making 13,000 jobs, $75 million in additional wages, $400 million in private investment, and $1 billion in economic impact a reality for the region.

“A full-scale license for Empire City would go a long way toward revitalizing the region. In 2019, Empire City Casino generated $307 million that went directly to education funding in our state,” said Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, President of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers. “And because gaming revenues in New York are directed to the education fund, this means our state will get the resources it needs to adequately support our children’s education.”

A full-scale casino license, complete with retail and mobile sports betting and live table games, will create thousands of new, family-sustaining union jobs, while generating millions in additional annual wages and tax revenue that would directly benefit local communities. 

“The workforce that would benefit from this project lives right here in Westchester and the Bronx,” said Richard McSpedon, Business Representative, Local Union #3 IBEW. “A full-scale casino license for Empire City Casino will support the creation of thousands of union jobs. This project makes total sense for our communities.”

“This has the chance to be life changing. We’re talking about thousands of good paying, family-sustaining jobs to a region that desperately needs them. For these communities, it’s as simple as that,” said Jodie Reaver, Political Organizer from the Southern Westchester Action Committee (SWAC PAC).

With just several days before Governor Cuomo and State legislative leaders agree on a State budget, (Due April 1), allowing table games and sports betting at MGM Yonkers must be a part of the package of items that are usually included in a budget agreement.  “With just days away from the state budget being finalized, we are calling on the Governor and the Legislature to support a full-scale casino license and mobile sports betting access for Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts,” said John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Business Council of Westchester. “The clearest path to provide significantly more revenue for the state, offer good jobs, and support the local community is for Empire City to become a full-scale casino complete with retail and mobile sports betting and live table games. This is a no-brainer for our communities.”

The fact that Yonkers, and Westchester County, has a partner in the gaming industry like MGM is a benefit that should be embraced. One of the most respected and recognizable names in gaming, MGM purchased Yonkers Raceway and Empire Casino in 2018 for the purpose of expanding the facility and its 93- acre property to include table games and sports gambling. That time has now come for New York State to approve this expansion, which will provide an economic boost to Yonkers and Westchester.

MGM employees earn a middle-class wage, and the company has proven its desire to help its workforce during the pandemic when they continued health benefits for their employees.  MGM has also committed to funding the Yonkers Public Schools with an additional $10 Million per year if table games and sports gambling are permitted at Empire City Yonkers.

MGM also has a mobile sports mobile app, BetMGM, which is proven and could be used in New York State if an agreement for mobile sports gambling is reached. Currently, Westchester residents have to travel upstate to bet on sports or take advantage of legal New Jersey sport betting which also includes online sports betting.

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