NY Times Report: Budget Could Include Accelerating New York City Casinos

NY Times Report: Budget Could Include Accelerating New York City Casinos
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

With Friday’s state budget deadline for fiscal year 2023 rapidly approaching, there were many items under consideration that involved New York betting and gaming.

Legislation being discussed right up to the deadline includes fantasy sports, iGaming, lowering the New York sports betting 51% tax rate and mobile kiosks, to name a few.

However, very much worth your attention is word there could be some fast-tracking of approvals for downstate casinos.

According to the New York Times, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Democrat-controlled state Senate and Assembly are working on a deal for the possibility of three new casino licenses downstate with a number of companies bidding for New York City-based gaming.

Hochul is up for re-election this year.

Casinos in Heart of New York City?

Some of the ideas put forth, according to the Times report, 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.

All this maneuvering comes during the same time that the state has launched mobile sports wagering and already set national monthly records for handle.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) also appears to be in favor of the plan, wanting at least two of the three licenses in the city rather than on Long Island, according to Times report.

State Senator Liz Krueger (D), who represents the Upper East Side, told the Times she is skeptical of a casino in Manhattan but would be slightly less willing to object if it catered to high-rollers rather than to New Yorkers of lower income with less money to lose.

In a statement to DailyMail.com, Krueger noted that several hurdles would need to be cleared.

“It is critical that any plan to site casinos in New York City must move through standard city land use approvals, including (land use review), zoning, and getting support from the local government and community boards,” Krueger said. “There may be support in some parts of the city for siting a casino. I’m not so sure that my district in Manhattan would be open to one.”

One of the main hurdles would be the state's assembly Democrats, who have not included the provision for the licenses in their state budget. The Assembly would need to negotiate that with Gov. Hochul.

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Budget Got Ball Rolling on Casinos

On Jan. 19, Hochul revealed her $216 billion Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget, which included a plan to allow the state Gaming Facility Location Board to issue a request for applications that could lead to three new full-scale casinos within the city or surrounding suburbs.

“We will issue an order to get bids in … there’ll be a board that makes a selection process for casinos across the state largely. The three will be probably focused in the downstate area, but there’s no restriction there,” Robert Mujica, the state’s budget director, said during a press conference at that time.

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.

Previously, the Post had reported that big names such as Wynn Resort and Las Vegas Sands want to compete for New York City-area licenses. Those potential casino locations could include anywhere in New York City, Nassau-Suffolk in Long Island and Westchester-Rockland-Putnam counties north of the city.

A key executive with the Sands has said in recent months that New York City could be a massive market for his company.

Other potential sites in the report included Willets Point in Queens, where Mets owner Steve Cohen leases the Citi Field ballpark and adjoining parking lots; the Belmont Park development in Long Island, home to the Belmont Park racetrack; UBS Arena, the new home of the New York Islanders; and Staten Island’s St. George neighborhood.



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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