New York’s Rivers Casino to Reopen Poker Room for First Time Since Pandemic Began

  • The Rivers Casino poker room has remained closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020
  • It will open from 10am to 2am starting Wednesday this week, with a variety of games on 16 tables
  • New York casinos only recently ended all restrictions, reopening at 100% capacity in June
  • Illinois constructors placed the final beam on the Rivers Casino Des Plaines expansion this week
Rivers Casino in Schenectady
Rivers Casino (pictured above) in Schenectady, New York is finally opening its poker room after more than 17 months, offering a variety of games on 16 tables. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Finally back in business

Rivers Casino in Schenectady, New York has decided to reopen its poker room for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

open from 10am to 2am starting Wednesday

Closed for more than 17 months, the room represents the last part of the gambling venue yet to become operational following lockdowns in March 2020. It will open from 10am to 2am starting Wednesday with a variety of games on 16 tables.

Rivers Casino general manager Rick Richards commented on the reopening in a press release on Monday. He said: “The poker room is extremely popular and a big part of what makes for a fun and exciting gaming experience at the casino, and we couldn’t be happier to reopen it for our guests.”

Elsewhere, another project under the Rivers Casino brand reached a milestone this week. On Monday, constructors in Illinois placed the final structural beam during a topping off ceremony for the new Rivers Casino Des Plaines expansion.

The long road to reopening

Along with the rest of the state’s casinos, Rivers Casino in New York shuttered its doors in March 2020 as the local government imposed a COVID-19 lockdown. It wasn’t until September 2020 that the state’s gambling operators could reopen their venues with strict restrictions in place. In June this year, casinos finally dropped all pandemic restrictions, opening at 100% capacity for the first time.

In announcing the ending of restrictions, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo praised New York’s residents for high vaccination rates. At the time, health officials had administered over 20 million vaccines. This figure has now reached close to 24 million, with almost 60% of the population having received two doses.

Since September 2020, Rivers Casino has gradually built back up to full operations in its Schenectady venue. Only last month, the operator took to Twitter to advertise job roles in its poker room in preparation for the reopening:

While Rivers Casino’s poker room will open for 16 hours each day, the rest of the casino is currently operational between the hours of 6am and 2am. The four-hour closure allows for the casino to complete a deep cleaning process each night.

A final beam in Des Plaines

Constructors and casino executives celebrated in Illinois on Monday as the final structural steel beam for the expansion of Rivers Casino Des Plaines took its place. The $87m development will include a poker room and additional slot machines, as well as an events ballroom and a new restaurant. It will cover 78,000 square feet.

The casino’s official Twitter page posted images of the celebrations that day:

The expansion will open in two phases with the first ground-level section set to open over the winter. This will include the new restaurant and an expanded gaming floor. Meanwhile, the second-floor area will open in spring next year. This will include the poker room, ballroom, and additional slot machine area.

In anticipation of the opening, Rivers Casino Des Plaines is looking for 400 new employees, including 250 table game dealers.