Legislators in New York green-lighted plans for three new casinos in the state as part of the $220 billion one-year state budget they approved on Saturday that was passed into law on the same day following the signature of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Speeding up Phase 2
The three casinos are part of the New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1 measure voted as part of the November 2013 ballot by New York residents. Seeking to promote job growth, increase funding for schools, and lower local governments’ property taxes, the bill allowed the state to authorize up to seven casinos in two phases: four in upstate New York under phase 1, and after 7 years, another three in New York City as part of phase 2.
Hailing the approval of the budget as a step forward for the state as the projects will help generate revenue for the state and create new jobs, chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. warned that “work is just beginning.”
“Following the budget, the legislature must monitor the timely, fair and transparent bidding process for the licenses, and ensure that the siting process is being credibly implemented. I look forward to working with my colleagues, the Gaming Commission and the Hochul Administration on the downstate license issue.”
Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., Chair, Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee
The budget law means New York will start accepting casino applications this year, cutting down on the time interval between phase 1 and phase 2 by one year. A minimum of $500 million license fee was set by legislators.
A six-member community board of political appointees selected by the governor, mayor, and state and local representatives will review all proposals, allowing input from local residents. Two-thirds of the panel vote will ensure an application will be sent to state authorities for consideration.
Two Locations Already Determined?
And while there are three available slots, there is speculation that two of the locations will be the racetracks in Yonkers and Queens where MGM Resorts International and Genting Group, respectively, already operate slot machine parlors. Both operators will seek to expand their offering with blackjack and other games under a Las Vegas-style casino license.
And while Addabbo believes “it’s the most hypothetical” to see an expansion at the racetracks as “people don’t want a lot of new gaming sites,” speculation does not deter some of the other big casino players such as Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands and Hard Rock International to scout locations for a suitable site.
The budget approval also means Gov. Hochul can now move forward with the controversial plans to support the building of the new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Under the deal, the state will provide $600 million and Erie County will chip in with another $250 million.