Las Vegas-Style Casinos Heading to New York Following a Decade-Long Delay

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The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board made a significant announcement last Thursday regarding the issuance schedule of the coveted downstate casino licenses. The highly anticipated casinos will bring Las Vegas-style gaming to the heart of metropolitan New York, an exciting prospect that has been eagerly awaited since 2013.

Back then, New Yorkers elected to amend the state constitution to make room for extravagant commercial casinos. This approval allowed for four upstate and three downstate casinos. However, a decade-long delay postponed the unleashing of these gambling havens in the downstate area, providing ample time for the upstate counterparts to lay a strong foundation with a loyal customer base.

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That embargo has now expired, sparking a flurry of activity among keen developers who have long been incubating proposals with multi-billion dollar price tags. A significant number of state lawmakers are encouraging the State Gaming Facility Location Board and Governor Kathy Hochul to expedite the process and award the casino licenses as originally planned this year. However, in March, the state agency reluctantly acknowledged the licensing process would likely extend into the latter stages of 2025.

According to the State Gaming Facility Location Board, the applications for the downstate licenses should be submitted by June 27, 2025. Each qualified proposal will be assigned a six-member Community Advisory Committee, comprising of Governor Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City, the borough president, along with an applicable state senator, assemblyperson, and city councilor.

These casino propositions must earn the approval of their respective Community Advisory Committees by September 30, 2025. Following that, the Location Board will take October and November to meticulously scrutinize the submitted bids, with an aim to announce the winners by December 1, 2025. The victors are then required to deposit their $500 million license fees to the state treasury by the end of 2025.

Vicki Been, the Board Chair, elucidated, “This schedule takes into account all the legalities that potential bidders must comply with before we can assess their applications”. She also pointed out that this strategic timeline enables communities to express their opinions, sets a fair ground for multiple contenders, and presents significant player’s opportunities to engage in a rewarding, transformative venture.

As well as securing the support of a Community Advisory Committee, each casino applicant is required to fulfill all entitlement processes, which includes acquiring land-use permits and zoning authorizations. The pushing back of the submission deadline to June of 2025, has created a level playing field for bids that are still navigating the complex process of securing local approvals for their project.

The Board also underlined the necessity for proposals to undergo a comprehensive State Environmental Quality Review, with an objective of identifying potential adverse environmental consequences, assessing their significance, and suggesting remedies to mitigate significant ramifications.

Two companies, MGM Resorts and Genting, have emerged as the front-runners for two of the licenses. These would allow their respective video lottery venues, Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World in Queens, to expand into full-scale casinos complete with Las Vegas-influenced slots, live dealer table games, and sportsbooks. Hard Rock International, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Bally’s, Mohegan, and Caesars Entertainment are also in the running, continuing to fine-tune their proposals to develop downstate casino ventures.