NY Assemblyman Pushes for Swift Casino Licensing to Boost Economy


New York Assemblyman, Gary Pretlow of Mount Vernon, is leading a charge for accelerated action on casino gaming licensing in the New York City vicinity. He points to the urgent need for job and income opportunities that new casinos could provide as he pushes for pell-mell progress.

Residents of New York have been anticipating swift approval for three casino licenses in the downstate region for the past two years. Still, it seems the wait may extend into late 2025 or early 2026 before decisions are finalized. Hopeful companies hang in the balance, vying for the coveted opportunities these licenses will provide.

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To counter burgeoning delays and associated costs, Pretlow, in collaboration with Sen. Joseph Addabbo of Queens, endeavored last week to introduce legislation mandating the licenses’ issuance potentially as early as March 31, 2025. For Pretlow, this movement represents not just economic potential, but a lifeline for minority communities in dire need of opportunities.

“We must get this done because New Yorkers are counting on much more than blackjack or roulette tables,” Pretlow, championing the cause, remarked in an op-ed for the Yonkers Times. He bemoaned the exodus of Black and Brown families from the downstate region due to limited career prospects, the struggles of educators with underfunded school systems, and commuters vexed by decaying infrastructure.

Pretlow’s rallying call found resonance among gaming industry observers and lobbyists who were initially optimistic about the expedition of licensing this year. Yet, cautionary voices within the sector flagged 2025 as a more realistic timeframe due to anticipated bureaucratic hiccups.

Underlining the impetus of these developments, Pretlow drew attention to New York’s steeply ringing $9.5 billion budget deficit that could be significantly reduced by the $500 million license fee per winning bidder, or a hefty $1.5 billion in total. While the quantum may increase given the state’s crying financial needs, the sentiment remains clear: it’s time to unlock the potential revenue streams from downstate casinos.

“But first we need to actually start flipping cards,” said Pretlow, referencing the delays since New York State’s commitment to expedite casino licensing as a part of the 2022 budget. He vociferously critiqued the Gaming Commission’s decision to postpone licensing awards until the end of 2025, which means promised construction and permanent employment opportunities won’t manifest for another two years, at best.

It’s not just about immediate licensing fees either. Over time, casinos in the New York City region are estimated to generate billions in income and sales taxes, among other levies, providing crucial financial sustenance for the state.

The passage of the bills proposed by Pretlow and Addabbo could serve as a catalyst to expedite the New York casino conundrum. Yet, time is a waning luxury with only seven working days remaining in the state’s 2024 legislative session.

Should the state assembly and senate move to advance on the bills, it’s probable that Governor Kathy Hochul will lend her approval and sign the legislation into law. This would bring much-needed clarity to the New York casino situation as early as the first quarter of 2025. It would then be up to gaming companies and real estate partners to navigate environmental and property issues over the following two years. Time, now more than ever, seems to hold the trump cards in this high-stakes game.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.