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MGM Resorts Spending $850M To Acquire Yonkers Casino, Racetrack

Empire City Casino in Yonkers, N.Y.

MGM Resorts is growing its East Coast gambling empire.

The Las Vegas-based operator of casinos and resorts is buying the Empire City Casino and racetrack in Westchester County, New York, just a few miles north of New York City, for a deal that includes $605M going to the current owner, the Rooney family, and the assumption of $245M in outstanding debt, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Rooney family — best-known for its longtime ownership of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers — bought the property, which offers slot machines, electronic table games and live and virtual horse racing, for $55M in 1972, and has been looking to sell it since last year.

MGM Resorts will buy the property, then transfer it to its real estate subsidiary, MGM Growth Properties, and execute a sale-leaseback transaction that would make MGM Resorts the tenant on the 97-acre site. The transactions are expected to close in the first quarter.

MGM opened a multibillion-dollar casino and hotel near Washington, D.C., called MGM National Harbor, in late 2016 and plans to open another MGM resort, this one worth $960M, in Springfield, Massachusetts, later this summer

MGM is growing its holdings outside of traditional gambling hubs in Las Vegas and Atlantic City as the landscape of the leisure activity is shifting rapidly, most notably with the recent Supreme Court decision that allows states to legalize sports betting

Considering Empire City's proximity to the country's largest city and the fact that betting on horse races already happens there, the property is well-positioned if New York's government decides to legalize sports gambling. If the state also decides to grant Empire City a license for table games like poker and blackjack before 2023, MGM will pay the Rooneys an additional $50M, according to the Journal.