New York Lawmakers Work to Speed Up Licensing Process

New York state lawmakers Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have introduced a bill designed to speed up the process for awarding casino licenses in the New York City area.

New York lawmakers discuss bill to speed up casino licensing in the State.

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Bringing the Application Deadline Forward

The proposed bill requires all casino license bids to be submitted by July 31, 2024 and mandates the New York State Gaming Commission to approve three licenses by March 31, 2025. Currently, licenses are scheduled to be awarded by December 31, 2025.

Addabbo and Pretlow argue that the existing timeline is inefficient and delays economic benefits for the state. They believe expediting the licensing process could generate billions in additional revenue for New York.

Senator Addabbo highlighted that the extended timeline is holding up around 5,000 jobs, emphasizing the need for a more efficient process. The bill’s aim is to remove inefficiencies rather than favor specific bidders.

Some believe the current system benefits those bidders facing political and zoning challenges. For instance, Mets owner Steve Cohen, who proposed an $8 billion casino near Citi Field in Queens, and the Related Companies, with a $12 billion casino and office tower project in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, are both dealing with these kinds of problems.

The accelerated timeline proposed by Addabbo and Pretlow could benefit existing slot parlors such as Resorts World at Aqueduct and MGM Empire City at Yonkers. These establishments would only need to expand their facilities to include live card games to obtain a license.

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Bill Proposes $500m Upfront License Fee

The new bill stipulates that each successful bidder must pay an upfront license fee of at least $500 million. It also allows two years to resolve any legal or land-use issues.

However, significant challenges remain. For example, Cohen’s project requires state legislative approval to redesignate parkland around Citi Field for commercial use. State Sen. Jessica Ramos, who represents the area, has yet to support this approval.

Assemblyman Pretlow, whose district includes the Yonkers racino, expressed frustration over the slow pace of the process, noting that New York state could be missing out on $2 billion in revenue.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who oversees the gaming commission, has stated she will review all passed legislation but has not made any specific comments about the accelerated casino licensing process.

Other proposed casino projects in New York City include developments by SL Green/Caesars/Roc Nation in Times Square, Bally’s in The Bronx, Silverstein Properties in Hell’s Kitchen, and the Thor Equity consortium along the Coney Island boardwalk.


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