Rush Street, Wynn, LVS Among Gambling Giants to Officially Confirm Interest in NYC Casino Project

  • A total of 30 people or entities have responded to the NYGC’s RFI deadline of December 10
  • Caesars Entertainment did not express interest, despite reportedly mulling the project
  • Unlike most of the other gambling giants, Rush Street did not request the NYGC to redact its RFI
  • The operator’s pitch stated it would “love” for its eighth casino to be in Downstate New York
  • Some respondents, like the NYRA and the Shinnecock tribe, might want to voice their concerns
New York City Manhattan skyline
Big gaming brands including Rush Street, Wynn, LVS, Bally’s, and MGM Resorts have moved one step closer to bidding for a NYC casino license after submitting their RFI’s. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The race becomes official

More than seven giants of the US gambling industry, including Rush Street Gaming, Wynn Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands (LVS), have now officially expressed their interest in a New York-area casino license.

On Wednesday, Capitol Pressroom podcast host David Lombardo shared news of Rush Street officially expressing interest in acquiring one of three New York City casino licenses:

The operator of Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady is a new face in the race, while media reports already suggested Wynn, LVS, Genting Group, MGM Resorts International, Bally’s Corporation, and Hard Rock International had an interest in the project. Now, all seven have submitted their official expression of interest to the New York State Gaming Commission (NYGC).

The request for information (RFI) deadline passed on December 10. A total of 30 people or entities have responded. Notably, Caesars Entertainment is not among the interested parties despite reports suggesting the company intended to join the race.

Rush Street’s plans revealed

An RFI represents the first step towards eventual bidding for an NYGC license. As is the norm, most of the 30 interested parties have requested the state to completely redact their response before posting in the public domain. Rush Street, however, proved an exception.

Similar to the proposal of money manager Jason Ader, who went public earlier this month with a $3.2bn NYC casino plan, Rush Street provided a full sales pitch with its own expression of interest.

Signed by chairman Neil Bluhm and CEO Greg Carlin, Rivers’ pitch gets straight to the point. “We are developers of destination casinos and we are proud of how we have transformed local communities,” it states. The presentation highlights the positive impact the brand has had on Schenectady and other cities where it has established casinos, including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Rush Street’s pitch goes on to “humbly ask” the NYGC to give the Chicago-based firm the chance to duplicate the success it has experienced elsewhere in the US. “We have developed six successful casinos from the ground up, we just broke ground on the seventh, and we would love for the eighth to be in Downstate New York,” the proposal asserts.

Another respondent, the Water Club, proposed a small, exclusive casino without slot machines. Jumping on a hackneyed 007 marketing trope, it said the upscale casino could be where “the next James Bond can play a hand of poker in New York.”

Some concerned parties

Not all 30 respondents want a casino license, however. The RFI is also a public comment window — a platform for residents, gaming industry players, and not-for-profit bodies to articulate their concerns.

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is one such party that may have concerns about the impact of new casinos. Also potentially voicing a gripe is the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which is seeking to develop its own casino in eastern Long Island. Like the NYRA’s RFI, the state blacked out the majority of the tribe’s eight-page submission, so it’s not clear what their specific worries might include.

Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors Performing Arts Center in Schenectady, responded via his role as treasurer of the Upstate Theater Coalition for a Fair Game. Morris urged the NYGC to require “consideration of local cultural impacts.” Morris said that, unlike Manhattan, “metro-New York includes the other boroughs, Long Island and Westchester, where the competition for the content could seriously destabilize existing, often historic, facilities.”

Despite concerns from some companies and local legislators, a recent study by the NYGC estimated that three full-service casinos entering the NYC market could rake in extra revenue of $420m to $630m per year.