The owners of Jake’s 58 recently came out with a statement and said that their Islandia casino-hotel, which has been closed for months since March because of the ongoing pandemic, may get shut down and remain closed for at least two more months. But according to the email sent by Delaware North, Jake’s 58’s Buffalo-based owner, which operates the video-lottery casino for Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp, the casino had implemented safety measures to prepare the facility for customers, but has not been told by state officials when it can reopen. For now, the Suffolk OTB furloughed most of its 300 employees after the casino shut down and according to Schneider OTB would pay for their health benefits through July 31. Delaware North last month notified the state Department of Labor that 24 nonunion Jake’s 58 employees laid off in March would remain temporarily out of work. The filing said the hotel-casino’s closure was expected to exceed six months, indicating it may not reopen until late September.
According to the website for New York’s reopening plan casinos that are attached to hotels aren’t allowed to reopen quite yet. And there is no clear indication on the site of when casinos will be allowed to reopen which s why the hotel portion of Jake’s 58 is closed right now.
Suffolk OTB spokesman Jon Schneider said in an email: “We appreciate the approach being taken by New York State to reopen smartly and safely, and we do not have any further information on when we will reopen. However, once we are allowed to reopen, we look forward to all our employees returning to work.”
Before the pandemic, Jake’s 58 was among the state’s most successful gambling venues, generating millions of dollars annually for Suffolk and other entities such as public schools. OTB owes Suffolk a minimum of $1 million this year from Jake’s 58, and a total of about $20 million, including from other OTB operations. At the same time, the lost income from OTB was among $300 million to $500 million in projected losses for the county this year because of COVID-19.
The affected employees, according to Glen A. White, a Delaware North spokesman, mostly work in the hotel and its food and beverage operation, but are technically OTB employees managed by Delaware North. White said the notification, known as a WARN notice, was issued because the casino may be closed for an additional two months, though officials are preparing for the facility to open as soon as state officials allow it which is really good news for a lot of casino fans. Something that will make the reopening easer though will be the fact that the casino upgraded the facility’s heating and air-conditioning system according to White. And when the customers do return, they will be required to register to enable contact tracing, and social distancing and masks will be mandatory. At the same time seating capacity will be limited, he said.