New York’s Empire City Casino Could Be Upgraded to MGM Empire City, If MGM Gains a Retail Casino License

Renderings of the proposed MGM Empire City casino resort gave New Yorkers a preview of what they’ll see if MGM Resorts International is one of the recipients of a downstate casino license, as many expect. On Nov. 30, MGM revealed its vision for upgrading the existing Empire City gambling facility in Yonkers into a “world-class entertainment destination.” However, that will only happen if MGM is indeed one of the three winning bidders for the licenses.

As of Nov. 30, a New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) board appointed to pick the possible licensees hadn’t yet requested formal applications. So there aren’t even names of would-be casino licensees for New Yorkers to peruse, despite them having seen press releases about possible multi-billion-dollar projects for at least a year.

A clue to the regulator’s delay appeared in the commission’s meeting agenda. On Dec. 4, the commission will consider appointing a new Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) member.

Meanwhile, the board is more than a month behind schedule.

That delay has already resulted in statements to Bonus by state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. The Democrat from Ozone Park told Bonus on Nov. 8 that he hoped to see the regulator “acknowledge submitted applications” by the end of 2023.

Addabbo is an outspoken advocate for expanding legalized gambling in New York, including adding online casino sites. Plus, his district houses Resorts World New York City, which may also apply for a license.

MGM Empire City Would Be An Upgrade

MGM (MGM Resorts International 42,58 +0,35%) described the existing Yonkers facility as a “video lottery terminal racino.” The company said gaining a full commercial casino license would transform the location and provide $1 billion in “new economic activity for the region.”

The Nov. 30 announcement said:

A full commercial gaming license will allow MGM Resorts to offer a casino experience that is competitive to the offerings of neighboring states, deterring the current flow of entertainment dollars from New York to gaming and entertainment properties in other states.

MGM provided no timeframe for that promise.

Also, MGM didn’t name the competing states, but Atlantic City is likely the primary retail casino concern. The New Jersey resort houses nine casinos vs. Philadelphia’s four, and the extended trip to Connecticut yields two casinos.

All three states offer sports betting, which MGM says the new Yonkers casino would also include.

The proposed MGM Empire City casino would include a BetMGM Sportsbook.

BetMGM is already one of nine mobile sportsbook operators in New York, which generates the most revenue in the country from legal sports betting.

The retail and online sports betting operator is a joint venture between MGM and Entain (Entain PLC 911,20 -0,07%).

About That GFLB

On Oct. 4, 2022, the commission appointed Quenia Abreu, Vicki Been, and Stuart Rabinowitz to the GFLB.

While the siting board would be complete with five members, the commission decided to stop at a quorum.

Then, that siting board began the months-long process of offering their recommendations for casino licensees in January 2023.

On Nov. 30, Bonus asked the regulator why the Dec. 4 commission agenda includes appointing a GFLB member. Bonus didn’t receive an immediate response.

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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