New York’s state budget will include the earlier implementation of three downstate casino licenses, setting the stage for full casino gaming in the largest city in the United States.
Full budget bills were not printed and released as of Thursday night (April 7), but Governor Kathy Hochul announced that a “conceptual agreement” had been reached between her office and leaders from the two chambers of the General Assembly.
Assuming the ultimate version of the budget proposal passes, the plan will allow the process to begin this year to select three casino licenses — that most believe will be located in or around New York City — rather than waiting until 2023, as was originally intended in a 2013 constitutional amendment that authorized casinos.
Accelerating the licenses was a part of Hochul’s executive budget in January and was also part of the Senate’s one-house budget released in March. The State Assembly budget did not include any provisions for accelerating the licenses.
Both Hochul’s executive budget and the Senate budget included a request for application process to identify bidders, with the Senate adding a proposed $1bn license fee for each of the three licenses.
The two existing downstate video lottery casinos, MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World Queens property, have been speculated by many to be favorites to win two of the licenses, allowing the properties to add live table games and land-based sportsbooks to the current offering of slots and electronic table games and allowing a quicker launch than a new licensee could provide.
If that ends up being the case, it could set up a heated chase for arguably the most coveted open license in the U.S. between the heaviest hitters in the casino industry, with a myriad of companies already expressing interest during a request for information last year, including Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Rush Street Gaming, Hard Rock International and Bally’s.
Both legislative one-house budgets included provisions to hold a second round of bidding for new sports-betting licenses, following the initial launch in January, but following negotiations, the budget is not expected to include new sports-betting licenses.
The state budget is already a week late, with the state’s fiscal year beginning April 1, but the legislature approved a budget extender bill earlier this week to ensure payroll and other services remained in place while negotiations continue.
Full details of the casino proposal will likely be revealed Friday when the remaining budget bills are expected to be introduced in both chambers of the Assembly for approval.