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State won’t decide on casino licenses for NYC area until 2025 — pushing out likely opening by years

State gaming regulators announced Monday that a decision on awarding casino licenses in the New York City region won't occur until the end of 2025.
State gaming regulators announced Monday that a decision on awarding casino licenses in the New York City region won't occur until the end of 2025.

Don’t bet on a Big Apple casino opening any time soon.

State regulators said they won’t decide on new casino licenses in the New York City area until late 2025 — a delay critics say deals the local economy a bad hand.

The footdragging pushes out the over-under on the earliest a gaming facility could open in the metro area to some time in 2026.

State gaming regulators announced Monday that a decision on awarding casino licenses in the New York City region won’t occur until the end of 2025. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts
State gaming regulators announced Monday that a decision on awarding casino licenses in the New York City region won’t occur until the end of 2025. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts

“It’s absurd that it’s going to take 3 years to put shovels in the ground,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said, referring to a timetable laid out by the state Gaming Commission during a public meeting Monday.

The city could use the jobs associated with the licenses to boost the post-COVID-19 recovery, he added.

“We’re trying to rebuild the New York economy. People are looking for good jobs and upward mobility. I hope they have a change of heart.”

Talk about awarding as many as three casino licenses in the downstate region have already been going on for three years.

The city could use the jobs associated with the licenses to boost the post-COVID-19 recovery, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said added. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts
The city could use the jobs associated with the licenses to boost the post-COVID-19 recovery, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said added. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts

Gaming industry insiders were left confused over the footdragging.

“People are shaking their heads. What’s taking so long?” a source to one casino bidder said. “There doesn’t seem to be any urgency.”

By comparison, state cannabis regulators have issued 89 licenses for pot dispensaries over roughly the same time period.

But Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams insisted the timetable is “ahead of schedule” because Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state legislature have not anticipated revenues from casinos to help bankroll the MTA until 2026.

A winning bidder must pay an upfront $500 million license fee for the privilege of operating a casino.

Williams noted that the City Council has yet to approve a zoning amendment to make it easier for casinos to find a location in the five boroughs.

The proposed casinos — The Related Companies/Wynn proposal for Hudson Yards, Mets owner Steve Cohen’s bid by Citi Field, the Thor Equities consortium in Coney Island and Bally’s at Ferry Point in The Bronx — would have to first be approved under the city’s lengthy Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure, the commission said.

“I have been informally advised that navigating the [land use] process will extend through the second quarter of 2025,” Williams said.

He said bidders will also have to undergo a separate state environmental scrutiny— under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

“We’re trying to rebuild the New York economy. People are looking for good jobs and upward mobility. I hope they have a change of heart,” Richards said. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts
“We’re trying to rebuild the New York economy. People are looking for good jobs and upward mobility. I hope they have a change of heart,” Richards said. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts

In order for Cohen’s and Bally”s proposals to proceed, they also need approval from the state legislature to redesignate the properties from parkland to commercial use.

These reviews won’t be completed until early 2025, Williams said.

The Community Advisory Committees would then vote to support or reject a casino by late summer of 2025, allowing the state to collect licenses fees “nearly one year prior” to the deadline submission to the state and MTA, Williams said.

Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams noted that the City Council has yet to approve a zoning amendment to make it easier for casinos to find a location in the five boroughs. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts
Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams noted that the City Council has yet to approve a zoning amendment to make it easier for casinos to find a location in the five boroughs. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts

The committees, created by law, consist of the mayor, borough presidents and local state and city lawmakers who represent neighborhoods where a casino is proposed.

Resorts World’s slots parlor at Aqueduct race track and the MGM slots parlor at Yonkers raceway have the infrastructure in place to more easily build out and offer card table games in 2026, if they are awarded licenses.

But other bidders would have to build a new casino facility from scratch, meaning their doors are unlikely to open for business until 2027 or later, industry sources estimate.