Will They, Won’t They? New York Casino Project Reportedly Faces Opposition

  • New York Governor Cuomo has backed plans to issue three new casino licenses this year
  • That proposal has reportedly fallen flat because of opposition from Manhattan officials
  • Attempts to win over opposition with a new bill ended after resistance from the governor
  • The proposal has little chance of revival in 2021 according to sources close to the matter
Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans for three new casino licensees in 2021 have reportedly fallen flat after meeting opposition from Manhattan officials. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Proposal hits a brick wall

With New York State facing a budget deficit of around $15bn, lawmakers are searching for new ways to drive up revenue post pandemic. It seems lawmakers likely won’t find those funds through new casinos, though, with political infighting sinking a proposal backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Casino operators and developers have pursued the idea of opening more New York casinos for many years and the state has plans to issue three new licenses in 2023. To raise revenue this year however, Cuomo intended to fast track this process to 2021.

I believe it would be seriously detrimental to the residential and commercial quality of Manhattan.”

As reported by the New York Post, this idea has faced staunch opposition from Manhattan legislators since its inception. Commenting on the proposition, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried told the Post it would prove “seriously detrimental to the residential and commercial quality of Manhattan.”

Efforts to win over opposing legislators through a separate bill have proven unsuccessful, meaning interested operators must now wait to see if officials revive the proposal.

Attempts to win over the opposition

Cuomo first announced his intention to consider the idea of new casinos in January of this year. He later chose to back the idea after hearing from real estate developers and gaming companies.

According to the New York Post, legislators have worked for months in an effort to win over those in opposition. To this aim, they created a new bill which would give Manhattan officials more autonomy over the licensing process. The legislation would allow them to decide on any casino license proposals that came their way.

Governor Cuomo reportedly objected to that idea, arguing that the bill would give too much power to those legislators. He said this set a dangerous precedent of granting special rights to certain jurisdictions. The legislation subsequently failed to progress without the governor’s support.

It fell apart in the wee hours of the morning.”

With legislators unable to reach an agreement, the proposal failed to make it into the final state budget published on April 6. Referring to negotiations surrounding the budget, a source told the New York Post: “This got really close. It fell apart in the wee hours of the morning.”

What are the chances now?

The proposal’s collapse will not come as good news to Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corporation, and Las Vegas Sands. Each of the gaming giants was reportedly holding out for one of New York’s licenses. Now, they must wait to see if debate opens up again this year – something possible but unlikely according to sources.

Freeman Klopott, a spokeswoman for the New York State division of the budget, believes there is a chance that the Manhattan bill could see the light of day again in 2021. “With the influx of federal funding, there was less of an imperative to change the status quo, however we are continuing to work with the legislature to see if there is a path forward this year,” she told the Post.

Others have also provided an update on discussions regarding the casino proposal. Senator Joseph Addabbo, chair of the Racing and Wagering Committee, said “there’s nothing really going on” in regards to the measure. Meanwhile, a casino source told the Post that legislators intend to bring up the subject again in January.

Cuomo’s efforts to fast track the casino licensing may have fallen flat, but the state does intend to expand its gambling market in other ways. In his 2021 budget, the governor included provisions for mobile sports betting using a state-run model. This will see the New York State Gaming Commission complete a request for applications process for potential operators.

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