Addabbo Says New York Could See $2.75 Billion By March 2025 From Downstate Retail Casino Licenses

New Yorkers know how to multitask, so why not do the same thing with the downstate retail casino license applications and bring in $2.75 billion by March 2025? So asks state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. in an April 24 interview with Bonus.

Addabbo told Bonus that when he returns to Albany on May 6, he’ll talk to the reconvened Senate about doing something legislatively to ensure gaming companies can submit their applications for retail casino licenses while they’re working on their land use processes.

He explained:

So we don’t have to wait.

New Yorkers have been waiting to find out who’s officially interested in buying three new full downstate retail casino licenses since at least Oct. 6, 2023. That was the deadline for casino license aspirants to submit their final questions to the siting board appointed by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC).

Once that body — the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board (NYSGFLB) — releases the answers to those questions, gaming companies will have 30 days to submit their applications.

Until then, no one knows who will plunk down the $1 million application fee. That’s something NYSGC Chairman Brian O’Dwyer has been emphasizing since the commission voted to appoint the original three members of the siting board on Oct. 3, 2022. It’s something Addabbo reemphasized to Bonus on April 24, 2024.

No Formal Applications Exist

Addabbo said even the gaming companies New Yorkers are positive will build casinos near them may not apply.

For instance, many New Yorkers are convinced Empire City in Yonkers, a property of MGM Resorts International (MGM Resorts International 39,72 +2,03%), will apply for a full casino license. The same is true about Resorts World New York City, which sits in Addabbo’s district.

However, Addabbo told Bonus:

Let’s see who submits [an application.]

That’s where that $2.75 billion in revenue for the state enters the picture. Approved applicants will have to pay a minimum of $500 million for the license, bringing the total to $1.5 billion. Then, each approved applicant will need to demonstrate an ability to make a $500 million capital investment.

Addabbo said licenses will likely fetch $750 million to $1 billion each once gaming companies start bidding on them.

New York City Zoning Hurdle Cleared

On April 18, the New York City Council approved the Gaming Facility Text Amendment (GFTA) “to allow gaming facilities licensed by the State as a permitted use in certain Commercial and Manufacturing districts, Citywide.”

Until that 35-15 vote on the 98-page-long GFTA, gaming facilities couldn’t have been built in the five boroughs.

As Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams and Dan Garodnick, director of the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP), put it in a public statement released on Oct. 6, 2023:

Casinos have the potential to bring jobs and economic opportunities to New Yorkers, but applicants within New York City are at a disadvantage today because the city does not currently have a mechanism in our land use regulations to properly review casino siting. To ensure New York City applicants are not at a competitive disadvantage, the Department of City Planning and City Council will consider a standalone citywide zoning change that allows them to be judged within the guidelines of the state’s statutory process for considering casino license proposals.

On April 18, Adams voted in favor of the GFTA the DCP filed on Nov. 24, 2023.

Plus, while the retail casino workers union opposes Addabbo’s online casino, poker, and iLottery bill, it’s all-in for the land-based casino expansion:

So, Why Are New Yorkers Still Waiting?

Although zoning issues in New York City were clearer as of April 18, they weren’t resolved in every scenario.

While some casino proposals developers publicized are seeing community support, some aren’t.

An $8 billion proposed project from New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock International faces a rezoning obstacle that’s stalled in the New York State Legislature. If state Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-East Elmhurst, doesn’t decide soon to co-sponsor AB5688 to “discontinue the use as parkland and alienate certain land within Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” it won’t bode well for Cohen’s 50-acre Metropolitan Park vision.

However, Ramos told Katie Honan of The City that she’s been having trouble finding anyone in favor of the Hard Rock casino who hasn’t “received or been promised a check” by Cohen. The April 1 article says Ramos instead is finding about 75% of her constituents don’t want a full casino in their neighborhood.

A Las Vegas Sands Corporation proposal to build a $6 billion facility on land now occupied by the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is at the center of a lawsuit against the entities granting it a land lease.

Land Use Disputes ‘Could Take Years’

During a March 25 gaming commission meeting, NYSGC Executive Director Robert Williams told the body “it makes little sense” to ask for formal downstate retail casino license applications because many interested parties won’t see their land use issues resolved until at least Q1 2025.

On March 26, Say No to the Casino Civic Association sent Bonus a lengthy statement that read, in part:

We welcome the commission’s slower timeline. … This timeline enables as many applicants as possible to participate. We’re confident that compared to other more suitable locations, the commission will agree that the location Las Vegas Sands hopes to utilize is categorically wrong for a casino.

If New Yorkers wait for each possible applicant to resolve issues, Addabbo told Bonus he believes that:

It could take years.

That’s why he’s less concerned about New Jersey revisiting its laws and allowing new casinos to be built near Manhattan. (Now, all nine of the state’s land-based casinos are in Atlantic City.)

Instead, Addabbo’s asking the following:

What is going to be the best move for the people of New York?

He said that seeing submitted applications now could help officials determine the best fit faster.

That’s why I want to get the process started.

Then again, there’s also this line in the GFTA city council approved on April 18:

The Commission is modifying the text to include a ‘sunset’ provision of June 30, 2025, for the submission of gaming applications to the Gaming Facility Location Board.

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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