Hard Rock Joins Race for One of New York’s Remaining Downstate Casino Licenses

  • Hard Rock plans to express interest in a license to the NYGC before the December 10 deadline
  • Other interested parties include MGM, Caesars, Bally’s, Genting, Wynn Resorts, LV Sands
  • The three new casinos could generate $420m to $630m per year, according to the NYGC
  • Hard Rock will continue with plans to build a casino resort at Meadowlands Racetrack in NJ
New York City skyline
Hard Rock International has joined the race to get one of three casino licenses still on offer in downstate New York. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Planning to officially express interest

Hard Rock International has its sights set on one of the three casino licenses still on offer in downstate New York. The US-based company’s chairman Jim Allen has revealed that Hard Rock is planning to submit an expression of interest to the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) before the December 10 deadline.

Allen addressed the subject in Atlantic City on Wednesday during the East Coast Gaming Congress. There, he mentioned that the company had planned to open up a casino in the state of New York since the possibility first arose seven years ago. The chairman confirmed that Hard Rock intends to gain a license for New York City specifically.

Hard Rock International is a global hospitality, entertainment, and gambling company owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It already runs casinos in New Jersey, Mississippi, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and Nevada.

Last week, the NYGC announced that it had begun taking expressions of interest for the three remaining casino licenses in the downstate area, which features New York City. Other operators reportedly interested in the licenses include Genting, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, and Bally’s Corporation.

A lucrative market

With such a large population and abundance of wealth in the New York City region, casino operators have long expressed interest in pursuing projects in the area. A recent study by the NYGC estimated that adding three full casinos to the downstate region could lead to additional revenue of $420m to $630m each year.

The NYGC announcement noted that the chosen operators could develop the casinos in New York City, the Nassau-Suffolk counties in Long Island, or the Westchester-Putnam-Rockland.

In 2013, New York residents voted in favor of allowing seven non-tribal casinos in the state. Upstate New York currently also has four commercial casinos in operation.

In downstate New York, gamblers can play certain types of casino games at two racino facilities – the MGM Resorts-owned Empire City Casino and the Genting-owned Resorts World New York City. These operators are reportedly favored to get two of the licenses that are up for grabs.

Proceeding with plans in New Jersey

Despite expressing its interest in a New York casino project, Hard Rock intends to continue with its plans to build a new casino resort in northern New Jersey at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The company has had plans for the development, located just eight miles away from New York City, since 2015.

Speaking about these two potential projects, Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen said: “We’re interested in both markets, and if God is good enough to allow us to operate in both, we would be happy to do so.”

voters rejected a proposal in 2016 to allow casinos outside of the city

Hard Rock still needs to get permission from New Jersey residents before it can proceed with the Meadowlands casino project. Currently, state law only permits casinos in New Jersey in Atlantic City. State voters rejected a proposal in 2016 to allow casinos outside of the city.

Hard Rock already owns and operates a casino resort in Atlantic City, established in 2018. Chairman Allen believes that the market in northern New Jersey and New York is big enough for multiple casinos. However, New Jersey state Assemblyman Ralph Caputo has expressed doubt that two Hard Rock projects so close to each other will garner success.

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