City Council the Latest Roadblock for NYC Casino License Application Process

Plenty of hurdles to jump

The availability of three downstate casino licenses in New York is a hot topic, with prospective bidders still waiting for the application process to finally open.

until the City Council allows for land use zoning changes

This doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon, though, as the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) confirmed that it is not likely not start accepting proposals until the City Council allows for the land use zoning changes that are necessary for casinos to be built in the city. The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will hold a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the possible changes.

Another issue is that specific proposals could have to get the relevant zoning go-ahead before submitting a bid. The NYSGC has assured prospective applicants that they will have “a reasonable amount of time” to secure this approval. They also need to get the green light from yet-to-form community advisory committees to proceed.

No end in sight

What all this means for the issuance of casino licenses is many more months of delays, with the matter set to drag on into 2025. The most recent stage in the process was the submission of questions from applicants to the NYSGC. The state statute says that there will be a 30-day deadline for the submission of final bids once the regulator responds to all of the questions. No answers will be forthcoming until the zoning issues are resolved.

Each license will carry an initial $500m fee.

Because of the delays, New York is losing out on valuable revenue that could help plug the state’s significant budget. Each license will carry an initial $500m fee; estimated incremental annual tax revenue will be between $231m and $413m when three casinos are up and running.

Senator Joseph Addabbo, who has long pushed gambling expansion legislation in the state, said of the latest delay: “I think the word frustrating just doesn’t capture my emotions.”

Plenty of competition

Almost a dozen different parties are showing an interest in submitting a bid, with casino companies spending $131m last year on lobbyists to try to drum up support for their proposals.

When the state legislature passed a law in 2022 that allowed for a sped-up licensing process, lawmakers expected the bidding to begin in 2023.

The Genting-owned Resorts World New York City and MGM’s Empire City Casino are favorites to receive two of the licenses. As these are existing slots parlors, they would be able to start offering table games within months of getting approval and these projects already have support from locals. The development of new casinos would take several years.

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