Addabbo to Wants to Work With Governor to Fund MTA and Accelerate Casino Licensing Process

Now that New York legislators approved state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.‘s plan to accelerate the stalled retail casino license process, he’s told Bonus he’s ready to work with the governor to get SB9673 signed into law. Meanwhile, one potential casino developer was so excited about the March 2026 licensee selection deadline that The Coney emailed Bonus that it would be “ready to put shovels in the ground on Day One.”

Addabbo, D-Woodhaven, didn’t spend much time celebrating the Assembly’s June 7 favorable vote on its AB10572 companion to his bill. Instead, on June 8, he told Bonus about his plans with Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul to provide funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Addabbo said:

I’m thankful the Assembly took a positive step forward in working towards realizing new, significant funding for the MTA. I now shift my focus on working with Governor Hochul’s office, should she approve the bills, on possible operational and capital funding for the MTA with obtainable gaming revenues, such as from the three downstate casinos or perhaps iGaming.

While Addabbo mentioned iGaming, those bills didn’t advance this year. He and his counterpart in the Assembly introduced measures to legalize New York online casinos, poker, and iLottery. The New York State Legislature adjourned on June 7. State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, also sponsored AB10572.

As for the MTA funding Addabbo mentioned, Hochul may seek replacement revenue for the congestion pricing plan she “paused” on June 5. Her decision is so recent that Bonus noticed on June 8 that the MTA site still instructed New Yorkers about how the Congestion Relief Zone beginning at 60th Street was “starting June 30.”

Congestion pricing of $15 each on vehicles entering Manhattan at Midtown or below was slated to generate $1 billion.

Addabbo has told Bonus that when three licensees are selected by March 2026, they will likely bid to pay licensing fees of $1 billion each. That may yield $2.75 billion to $3 billion in funding for the public transit service.

That revenue would more than offset the loss from not implementing congestion pricing.

Hochul announced on June 7:

The leaders and I have a shared interest and responsibility to ensure that the MTA and its capital program is fully funded.

Governor May Approve Addabbo’s Bill

Hochul may also be interested in enacting SB9673 for reasons other than it benefiting the MTA. The governor backs legal gambling expansion concerning the three downstate casino licenses. She’s also spoken out in favor of the retail casino workers union, which is eager to see the new casinos built.

However, a spokesman for that union — Bhav Tibrewal, political director for the New York Hotel Trades Council (HTC) — has told Bonus the body is unequivocally opposed to iGaming. The union believes online casinos and poker rooms would “cannibalize” revenue from brick-and-mortar casinos. HTC leaders believe that that would result in job losses among its union members. So, Hochul may not back legalizing iGaming, even with Addabbo’s revenue projections of $1 billion.

Hochul and Tibrewal didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment Bonus sent during non-workweek hours on June 6 and 7.

Speedy New York Retail Casino Licenses

SB9673 expedites the approval process for three downstate commercial casino licenses.

It passed the Assembly on June 7. Senators also okayed the measure that day in a 51-9 vote.

The most notable aspect of SB9673 is it allows developers interested in building multi-billion dollar casinos in New York City and the downstate region to simultaneously resolve land use issues while applying for casino licenses. It gives gaming regulators a hard deadline of March 2026 to approve three licensees.

On June 7, a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) told Bonus the gaming regulator wouldn’t comment on “proposed legislation.”

Developer Excitement

On June 8, Bonus received a statement from “the partners behind The Coney (Saratoga Casino Holdings, Global Gaming Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, Legends, and Thor Equities).”

It read:

The Coney is well-positioned to meet the new review schedule and remains ready to put shovels in the ground on Day One when approvals are ultimately granted. We continue to work with our neighbors, the local business community, and stakeholders throughout Brooklyn on advancing this transformative project that will inject thousands of jobs and millions of dollars into the local economy.

Indeed, regulators haven’t yet requested formal applications from any potential casino developers.

However, the project The Coney mentions is one of at least a dozen developers likely to be included in the selection process. That is, once applications are accepted by the appointed board providing siting recommendations to the gaming regulator. Submitting each application will cost $1 million.

The Coney is a $3 billion vision for a Coney Island casino. While that’s not the least expensive potential development that may enter the mix, it’s also not the most costly. So far, that honor seems to go to the $8 billion plan for a Queens casino. That idea came to public attention by New York Mets owner Steven A. Cohen.

However, Cohen’s plan failed to receive the necessary rezoning from parkland to gaming facility-ready acreage during the 2024 legislative session.

Speaking of Land Use Issues …

The New York retail casino license process may be able to resume. It stalled on Oct. 6, 2023.

However, land-based casinos do have their critics. In addition to rezoning issues facing the Bally’s Bronx casino proposal ($2.5 billion) and Cohen’s, one in Nassau County on Long Island has problems ranging from legal to environmental reviews.

The $4 billion to $5 billion Las Vegas Sands (LVS) casino plan is opposed by the Say No to the Casino Civic Association, among others.

So, while potential casino developers, Addabbo, Hochul, HTC, and Pretlow may be happy to see the licensing process resume, opponents will likely speak up again soon. However, the association didn’t return requests for comment from Bonus about the accelerated licensing process bills.

UPDATE: 06/10/24

On June 9, the Say No to the Casino Civic Association told Bonus:

Regardless of the ultimate timing of the licensing process, we are confident that the vast majority of Nassau County residents do not support the proposed massive casino complex at the Nassau Coliseum, a casino that would be the second largest in the country. We believe that the environmental impacts of this massive casino complex will prove to be unmitigatable and the proposed casino will not receive the necessary votes of a local Community Advisory Committee.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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