New York Assemblyman Pushes for Swift Casino License Approval Amid Budget Crisis

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New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow hailing from the Democratic arm of Mount Vernon, is spearheading the fight to accelerate the approval process of casino gaming licenses in the illustrious and vibrant city of New York.

Looking back, it has been two long years since the residents of New York were anticipating the swift approval of three downstate casino permits. Their excitement, however, has been dampened by frustrating delays. It now appears that they may have to wait till late 2025 or even early 2026 to find out which companies emerge as the fortunate recipients of these highly coveted licenses.

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In a bold attempt to circumvent additional unnecessary delays, both Pretlow and Sen. Joseph Addabbo of Queens, introduced legislature last week. If accepted into law, this action could push through the awarding of these permits possibly as early as March 31, 2025. Pretlow, seeing this as an opportunity to support minority communities, voiced his sentiment, “We must get this done because New Yorkers are counting on much more than blackjack or roulette tables.” Pretlow wrote an enlightening op-ed for the Yonkers Times, depicting the harsh reality of Black and Brown families exiting the downstate region in significant numbers due to slim career prospects. He also highlighted the plight of school administrators barely managing on frugal budgets and commuters grappling with the repercussions of an aging infrastructure.

Both lobbyists and gaming industry watchers projected optimistic forecasts for movement in the awarding process for the New York casino licenses this year. Yet others offered more cautious predictions, proposing a 2025 resolution, citing bureaucratic stalling among other hindrances.

Meanwhile, New York is wrestling with a staggering $9.5 billion budget deficit. The entry fees of $500 million per successful bidding party, or a total of $1.5 billion, could substantially alleviate that deficit. Some gaming industry observers even speculated that due to the state’s financial distress, the license fee could inflate to a whopping $1 billion per permit and gaming companies would have no alternative but to fork out the fee due to the enticing allure of the New York market. Regardless, Pretlow insists it is high time for the state to access the profitable downstate casino stream of revenue.

Pretlow emphasizes that the state must “start flipping cards,” and recalls the commitment New York State made in the budget two years ago to expedite the process. The original plans had projected bidding to commence in 2023, but persistent delays have instead pushed the goal posts even more.

However, time is of the essence. With only seven working days remaining in the state’s 2024 legislative session, it’s of absolute necessity that the bills proposed by Addabbo and Pretlow are progressed to expedite the New York casino process as early as the first quarter of 2025. If this eventuates, gaming companies and real estate partners will have up to two years to tackle environmental and property concerns.