Queens assemblyman urges gaming commission to reject MGM purchase of Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas called MGM International, the company set to purchase Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway, “unfit to operate in New York state” in a letter to Gaming Commission Chair Barry Sample.

Although MGM International has already entered into an agreement to purchase Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway for $850 million, the NYS Gaming Commission still needs to approve the deal.

On Oct. 1 last year, MGM International’s Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas became the sight of the worst mass shooting in American history when Stephen Paddock shot and killed 58 people and left hundreds injured. Nearly a year later, in July of 2018, MGM International decided to sue victims of the shooting in a preemptive step to avoid a lawsuit.

In the letter, Simotas accused MGM of grossly misusing a federal terrorism law by pre-emptively suing over a thousand victims and family members in order to “evade responsibility for permitting a guest to stockpile high-powered weapons and ammunition in its hotel and open fire on thousands of innocent people.”

“These victims have already suffered through an unimaginable trauma; it is unconscionable for MGM to use a twisted legal strategy to prevent them from seeking damages and holding the company accountable for its failure to adequately protect them from harm,” Simotas wrote.

MGM’s lawsuit requests a declaratory judgment stating that the company is immune from liability for the massacre under the federal Support Antiterrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002.

“More astonishing is that the company has been pressuring victims to waive their rights to personal service of process by offering to make small charitable donations in their names in exchange for their release,” wrote Simotas. “This is manipulative, self-serving and places an additional legal burden on victims who are still recovering from a horrific act of violence.”

The NYS Gaming Commission said that Simotas’ letter had been received and would be reviewed by the Commission.

“Our vision for this property has always been to develop it into one of the world’s greatest entertainment destinations,” said Tim Rooney, senior president and CEO of Empire City in a press release back in May of this year. “We have been a partner of New York state and its communities for 46 years, and it was important to us that we identify an entity that could build on the strong foundation we have established and bring our vision to fruition. We are confident we have found that in MGM Resorts, one of the premier gaming entities in the world.”

Empire City Casino has not responded to a request for comment to QNS in regards to the moral character of MGM International.



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