‘Conceptual Agreement’ of Budget Moves Downstate Casino License Process Forward

‘Conceptual Agreement’ of Budget Moves Downstate Casino License Process Forward
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

New York’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget is finally very close to being finalized and signed, nearly a week after its deadline of April 1 had passed.

Late Thursday afternoon, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) announced that the state has agreed to a “conceptual agreement on the fiscal 2023 budget” and is hoping it could get finalized and signed within the next couple of days after some items continue to be worked out. The final budget is expected to include the addition of three downstate casino licenses, which would be attached to the education section..

“We would like to get the final budget completed in the next day and a half or so, hopefully sooner,” Hochul said during her press conference.

In a press release sent out earlier this evening by the governor’s office, Hochul termed the budget as “a bold budget that brings much-needed economic relief to New Yorkers and looks to the future with historic investments in education, health care and infrastructure. This agreement brings us closer to an enacted budget and makes good on our promise of a stronger, safer, more inclusive and more prosperous New York State.”

The balanced, record-breaking budget would be $220 billion. Here is the budget as proposed by Hochul in mid-January.

Dealing to Deliver on Downstate Casinos

If the budget reaches formal conclusion with the downstate casinos licenses in, as expected, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) will get to work again.

The NYSGC, which successfully shepherded mobile New York sports betting to a Jan. 8 launch, is putting together a site review board that would consist of the Governor, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Borough President, a City Council member and others. A majority of four votes by the review board would be needed in the early process for the site licenses

“I want to see the additional licenses for three casinos in the state of New York,” Hochul, who is up for re-election this year, said near the end of her press conference. “In New York City, there was strong interest where sites could go. The city has a different interest, upstate has a different interest, so they will be part of the process to have local engagement included, where this can create thousands of jobs.”

The NYSGC actually could begin the process by issuing Request For Applications (RFA), just like it did with mobile sports betting licenses, from any potential and interested bidders. The NYSGC would select the winning bids.

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Casinos in the Heart of New York City?

A March 30 report in The New York Times stated that some of the ideas put forth have included a "Monaco-style" casino atop Saks Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, across the street from famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as a Hard Rock casino in Times Square and a potential spot with a view of the East River.

State Democrats have broached legislation that proposed that operators pay a $1 billion license fee for a downstate casino. That figure might or might not be noted in the final budget.

In an October 2021  New York Post story, it was reported that two of the three licenses could go to gaming facilities already approved to run slot machines: the MGM Resorts-owned Empire City Casino in Yonkers (home of harness racing’s Yonkers Raceway) and the Resorts World Aqueduct Casino in Queens. That Aqueduct entry, owned by Genting Group, recently added a hotel and plans to expand to a true casino with card games.

Although mobile sports betting is permitted in the state, New York does not have real money online casinos. Legislation to move that along is still in commitees in the state Senate and Assembly.

New Yorkers, stay tuned!



Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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