With many parties having an interest in getting one of three potential New York City commercial casino licenses, some conflicts of interest have been emerging. The Queens-based Resorts World New York City casino has reportedly parted ways with security director Timothy Pearson over ethical concerns.
concerns about his ties to both the casino company and City Hall
Pearson is a long-time friend of New York Mayor Eric Adams; it emerged last week that he has also been working as the mayor’s public safety advisor and getting paid for his work with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). There are concerns about his ties to both the casino company and City Hall, which will have a big role in deciding on the destination for commercial casino licenses.
Resorts World announced on Sunday that Pearson had resigned. The casino company is looking at expanding its existing Queens gambling operations and does not want to have any issues when it comes to getting the green light for a full casino license.
Looking to expand
Resorts World management allegedly did not know about Pearson’s role with the EDC; the former security director started with the EDC at the end of May. He had been working for Resorts World for about a decade and was part of the mayor’s transition team in January. The EDC does not have a formal role in the selection process or the sector’s regulations, but it can give input to City Hall on proposals.
Resorts World released a statement on Sunday, thanking Pearson for his work over the years, saying: “We support his decision to lend his expertise to the City in its pursuit of making our streets safer, and we wish him well.”
current facility, which only offers slot machines
The expectation is that the Genting-owned Resorts World will seek one of the downstate commercial casino licenses. That would allow it to expand its current facility, which only offers slot machines and is attached to Queens’ Aqueduct Raceway. With a full license, it would be able to also offer table games like roulette and blackjack. Both Resorts World and the MGM-owned Empire City Casino are thought to be frontrunners to get two of the licenses.
Significant lobbying efforts
Many prospective casino developers and operators have been busy lobbying New York politicians in an attempt to gain some favor when it comes time to hand out the licenses. Both Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul will have a say in the recipients.
In order for an area to decide on a casino proposal, a board will be set up that includes the mayor, council member, state assemblyperson, state senator, and borough president. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams has told the New York Gaming Commission that she is in support of Resorts World getting a license. The property lies in her district.