Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang Ponders Governors Island Casino for New York City Economic Recovery

  • Yang says a casino in could bring in more visitors to the five boroughs of New York City
  • A deed restriction barring casinos from 2003 would hinder any plans
  • Current island plans include a mixed-use campus for education, commercial, and hospitality
Andrew Yang
New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has suggested that a casino on Governors Island could help stimulate local economic recovery, but many hurdles stand in the way. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New casino discussion

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has discussed how a Governors Island casino could provide a new revenue stream for the city. Yang has dreams of becoming the next leader of the Big Apple and sees this plan as one way to boost the city’s economic recovery.

While the plan makes financial sense for New York City, it would be difficult to see to fruition. There are several obstacles standing in the way of a casino on the island, including a deed restriction dating back to the early 2000s.

Governors Island casino plans

Yang recently spoke on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” where he discussed the casino idea. The former Democratic presidential candidate feels that the city needs to continue to work on creating new ways to bring visitors to its boroughs. A casino would do just that, he said, along with generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues.

The 172-acre Governors Island is located in New York Harbor and can only be reached via ferry. It was formerly a military facility and served as a United States Coast Guard installation, but is now home to restaurants and businesses.

That casino would generate so much money it would be bananas.”

In the interview, Yang said if a casino could be established on Governors Island, it could be “one of the engines of recovery,” adding: “That casino would generate so much money it would be bananas.”

The island has plenty of space to house a casino, but restrictions may block the way for the construction of a gaming facility.

Potential issues

To see a casino on Governors Island, several things will have to fall into place. Currently, the island bans casinos; a deed restriction from 2003 would have to be changed to allow a gambling venue on the island.

There are also many unused portions of the island that need rezoning before properties can be built. The Governors Island Trust is working on rezoning millions in square feet of the island for development. The process is taking place partially to help pay for operations.

The former deputy mayor and chair of the Governors Island Trust board, Alicia Glen, commented that current plans for the island include developing a mixed-use campus. The campus would consist of hospitality, commercial, and educational sectors, with a focus on sustainability and climate change.

Glen pointed out the casino ban in the deed. She said there is no scenario where a casino would fit plans for the island property. Yang introduced the ideas as a hopeful option to bring in revenues. He has not provided a full proposal for a facility.

In a statement, Chris Coffey, a Yang spokesperson, said that the mayoral candidate continually reviews new and creative ideas to rebuild New York City. Yang feels that any major development project for the city needs to be community-led.

Mobile sports betting

The idea for a Governors Island casino comes at a time when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided to push for mobile sports betting legalization. The governor has shown opposition to the idea in the past, but now he sees the industry as one that will help bring much-needed revenues to the state.

In his proposal, Governor Cuomo said that platform providers must have a licensed commercial casino partner. The New York Gaming Commission would be in charge of the industry. The Commission will require mobile app operators to offer safeguards to keep players safe from addiction and abuse.