Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway were sold Monday to MGM Resorts for $850 million, ending the 46-year ownership by the Rooney family and giving the casino giant a major gambling hall just 20 miles from Times Square.
The sale is the end of an era: The Rooneys have owned the facility since 1972. Cliff Scofield of Yonkers works out with "Holly Hill Joke" on the track at Yonkers Raceway Jan. New construction at the site of the old Yonkers Raceway building, seen behind, is underway.
They have been considering a sale for years and announced in November they had hired J. The building will house many of the new video slots coming to Yonkers.
For MGM, the purchase gives it a larger footprint in the Northeast and the second largest slots-type parlor in the New York metropolitan area at a time when competition for the gambling dollar is fierce.
The Las Vegas-based company is banking on New York allowing full-scale casino licenses in the region as early as 2021, per current state law, as well as New York moving ahead with sports betting in the near future.
Indeed, MGM Resorts said Monday it would pay $50 million as part of the sale if Empire City is awarded a casino license by December 31, 2022.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval.
The state Gaming Commission said it would review the sale since it would have to license MGM to run the facility."When the purchase moves forward, the Commission will conduct a thorough review of the sale in accordance with state law and regulation," said Brad Maione, the commission's spokesman.
MGM will now compete in the New York City area with another gambling giant, Genting, which owns Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens -- which is the largest racino in the nation.
Billionaire KT Lim, the chairman of the Malaysia-based Genting, also owns Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, Sullivan County.
Empire City controls about a 40 percent share of gross gaming revenues in the market and has the sixth largest gaming floor in the country.
It has about 8 million customers a year and 1,200 employees representing 13 unions.