New York City, Colossus Of The North, Hovers Over New Jersey Casinos

October 7, 2022
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New York took its biggest step yet toward establishing a casino near the city that never sleeps by appointing two women and a man to a panel charged with selecting sites for three new casinos in the region including New York City.

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New York took its biggest step yet toward establishing a casino near the city that never sleeps by appointing two women and a man to a panel charged with selecting sites for three new casinos in the region including New York City.

The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) unanimously approved the new members of the Gaming Facility Location Board on October 3.

The members include: Quenia A. Abreu, president and CEO of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce; Vicki L. Been, a law professor at New York University; and Stuart Rabinowitz, former president of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

The board will request applications from casino developers and operators by January 6, 2023, and licenses are expected to be issued later in the year.

Residents of Manhattan are ambivalent about a casino in New York City, and the notion of three casinos in the city’s surrounding area is disquieting for the gambling industry in the border state of New Jersey.

Lloyd Danzig, a managing partner at the venture capital firm of Sharp Alpha Advisors in New York City, said the new casinos “will undoubtedly cause a drag on brick-and-mortar revenues in Atlantic City.”

“It is harder to say exactly what the impact will be on New Jersey’s igaming activity, although it should be noted that analysts have seen igaming revenues cannibalize some of the state’s brick-and-mortar revenues in recent months,” Danzig said.

In 2016, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to allow casinos in the northern section of the state to compete with future casinos in and around New York City.

Jeff Gural, who runs the Meadowlands racetrack which is in New Jersey but on the outskirts of New York City, was an outspoken advocate of the North Jersey casino referendum in 2016.

“I would think once three downstate [New York] casinos open, the likelihood is that people from New Jersey driving over the George Washington bridge, sitting in traffic and paying a $16 toll may ask why there is no option at the Meadowlands for a casino,” said Gural, who is chairman and CEO of American Racing and Entertainment.

“Just have to be patient and wait for those [three New York] casinos to open,” Gural said.

Ray Lesniak, a former New Jersey state senator who introduced the bill which led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to legalize sports betting, said a scenario similar to the 2016 referendum could be repeated next year.

“The legislature could put a referendum on next November’s ballot [in 2023],” Lesniak said.

“With New York’s offering of easy access for casino gambling to North Jersey residents just around the corner, I expect there will be an effort to counter it with a North Jersey casino.”

Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at Stockton University near Atlantic City, said three new casinos in downstate New York are not likely to impact New Jersey’s casino industry as much as the opening of casinos in Pennsylvania in 2006.

“When casinos were legalized and opened in Pennsylvania, New Jersey lost significant business to them because those locations were more convenient for some patrons motivated by convenience,” Bokunewicz said.

“But that was before online casinos and internet gaming. With the advent of online casinos, arguably the most convenient casino product, the significance of a convenient geographical location is somewhat diminished.”

Barbara DeMarco, a New Jersey gambling lobbyist who has worked in Pennsylvania, predicted three casinos in downstate New York would cause the closure of up to four casinos in Atlantic City.

But a casino in North Jersey also would have a devastating impact on Atlantic City, DeMarco said.

“North Jersey has multiple diverse industries as well as a population base that supports that region,” she said.

“South Jersey (which includes Atlantic City) has neither a diversified economy nor a population that can easily pivot to a new career in a new industry.”

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