Lawmakers, Experts Expect Long Wait for NYC Casino

  • New York has plans to award three licenses for downstate casinos
  • Two of the licenses will likely go to existing slots parlor locations
  • A long, difficult licensing process awaits potential NYC casino developers
  • Experts believe Manhattan casino bids will face some local opposition
Times Square
Experts agree that Manhattan casino bids in locations like Times Square face an uphill battle due to an extensive licensing process. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Three downstate licenses

A panel of experts discussed the future of three downstate New York casino licenses at the Racing and Gaming Conference at Saratoga on Tuesday, casting doubt on the idea that a New York City casino will open anytime soon due to a lengthy licensing process.

licenses will cost a minimum of $500m

New York will award up to three licenses to casinos in the city and its surrounding suburbs. The state expects that licenses will cost a minimum of $500m for interested developers.

However, two of those licenses may already be spoken for. Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World New York City in Queens already operate slots parlors in the metro area. Most observers believe that the successful experiences those venues have in prime locations will give them a leg up in the licensing process, meaning only one permit is up for grabs.

Long process for NYC

The third and final license will attract fierce competition from developers and gaming firms. However, experts at the Saratoga conference said that potential bidders may have to wait a long time before opening a potentially lucrative venue.

bids on the remaining licenses may not be due before January 1, 2023

Panel moderator Patrick Brown noted that bids on the remaining licenses may not be due before January 1, 2023. A community advisory committee will also need to approve any bid by a two-thirds vote. In New York City, that board will include representatives from the mayor of New York City, the governor’s office, as well as the relevant borough president, state representatives, and city councilor for the location in question.

Given the different interests of each of these individuals, Brown says gamblers may have a lengthy wait before they can wager in the city. “Getting six such people to agree on anything is a daunting, daunting task,” Brown told the panel. “There is a long and winding road ahead of us.”

Manhattan casino unlikely

While the third license may well go to a New York City location, experts and legislators doubt that a casino will land in Manhattan.

That’s not for a lack of trying. The New York Post reported that developers are looking at a number of locations, including Times Square and Hudson Yard. But local politicians are against the idea.

“I don’t know one constituent who wants a casino”

“I strongly oppose a Manhattan casino in concept,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who represents Hudson Yards and Times Square in Manhattan, told the Post. “I don’t know one constituent who wants a casino. Outside forces want a casino.”

Instead, Queens and Brooklyn appear to be the favorites to land the final downstate casino license. New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has lobbied for a casino near Citi Field, while other developers are eying Coney Island as a potential location.