Staten Island Throws Its Hat in the Ring for an NYC Casino License

  • State Island’s borough president has proposed a casino resort at the New York Wheel site
  • There are no in-person gambling options currently available on Staten Island
  • The NY Wheel was to be the world’s highest observation wheel before the project’s abandonment
  • Three full-service casino licenses are going to be up for grabs in downstate New York
Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island’s borough president is pushing for the borough to get one of three downstate New York casino licenses. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Making a case

With three casinos set to come to downstate New York in the near future, the competition for those pursuing these licenses is heating up. Staten Island Borough President Viyo Fossella is pushing for the New York City borough to get one of the licenses. During a Monday press conference, Fossella threw the area’s hat in the ring, saying that it is one of the few downstate regions that does not have any sort of in-person gambling options.

at the site of what was the New York Wheel project

He believes that a casino resort could work at the site of what was the New York Wheel project, where the Manhattan skyline lies in the background. He believes both the view and the nearby amenities surpass those in other areas of downstate New York. He called upon casino operators that have an interest in being part of a New York casino project to go to Staten Island to take a look.

A potential site in mind

Fossella has not yet shared his thoughts with the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) or New York Wheel site owner, the New York City Economic Development Corporation. However, he now welcomes the opening of dialogues with these groups.

Staten Island is the southernmost of the five New York City boroughs. People can get to Staten Island for free from Lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry.

The New York Wheel was set to be the highest observation wheel in the world, but the project fell apart in October 2018 as the estimated cost to build the 630-foot structure rose from about $250m to nearly $1bn. There had already been an investment of around $200m by the time of the project’s abandonment. Work has been ongoing in recent years to potentially build a smaller wheel. Fossella is not against having both a wheel and a casino at the site.

A lot of interest

With the state looking to boost revenues, the government gave the green light for the NYSGC to issue up to three downstate New York casino licenses. They would allow for full-service casinos, offering the likes of table games, slot machines, retail sports betting, and poker. The current expectation is that existing gambling facilities in Queens and Yonkers will both get a license. Genting’s Resorts World Aqueduct and the MGM-owned Empire City Casino currently only offer slot machines.

licenses will cost about $500m each

There has been plenty of speculation about potential sites for casinos; proposals include Times Square, the New York Mets’ Citi Field, and Hudson Yards. Many major casino operators have an interest in getting involved in a New York City casino project, including Bally’s, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts. Licenses will cost about $500m each.

The license application process has not yet begun, but certain aspects of the bidding criteria are known. Applicants will need to show how many quality jobs their gaming facility would create, have a reasonable development schedule, and maximize revenue for the state and the locality.