New York Governor Calls For Issuing Three Remaining Casino Licenses In 2022

January 19, 2022
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has called for the accelerated authorization of three new casino licenses that could ultimately lead to a full casino-resort in New York City.


New York Governor Kathy Hochul has called for the accelerated authorization of three new casino licenses that could ultimately lead to a full casino-resort in New York City.

Hochul, a Democrat, included in her proposed 2022 budget provisions that would start the licensing process for three new downstate casinos a year earlier than permitted under current state law.

New York voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 that allowed the legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in the state.

The legislature opted to implement the plan in two phases, approving four Upstate New York casinos followed by a seven-year wait from the opening of the first upstate casino before offering the remaining three licenses. That wait is set to expire in February 2023.

Although the governor's budget plan does not specify where the casinos must be located except to exclude specific counties and areas with existing gaming facilities, state budget director Robert Mujica said Tuesday that the bids will “probably be focused on the downstate area.”

“We don’t have a date, we have to wait for this to be passed by the legislature, but then we’ll put out a request for applications, get bids back and make awards for the additional licenses if we have bids that are worthy of a new license,” Mujica said.

Following the issuance of the requests for applications (RFA), the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board, appointed by the New York State Gaming Commission, would select the winning bidders.

The board would also set license fees and a minimum required capital investment, and the tax rate for the properties would be determined by the gaming commission following a competitive bidding process.

The six-member gaming commission put out a request for information regarding the extra licenses in 2021 and received responses from a virtual who’s who of American casino operators, including Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Rush Street Gaming, Hard Rock International and Bally’s, among others.

The request for information also included responses from MGM Resorts International and Genting, both of which have been looking to convert their respective New York City-area properties, the Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World Casino in Queens, from video lottery facilities into full casinos with table games and sports betting.

Senator Joseph Addabbo, chair of the New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, has called for the acceleration of the licenses for several years despite the opposition of Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned following a series of scandals last year.

“I believe the inclusion of expediting the three full casino licenses for our downstate region has the potential to bring in $1.5bn in revenue for the state, additional educational funding and improvements to problem gambling programs,” Addabbo said Tuesday.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Hochul administration and the gaming commission to ensure that gaming in the state expands and advances in a credible, reasonable manner,” he said.

New York’s fiscal year begins April 1, so a new budget is typically approved by then, although in past years the date has functioned as a soft deadline rather than a firm one.

Meanwhile, the administration’s budget materials published on Tuesday also touted the early success of the launch of mobile sports betting in the state earlier this month.

According to budget briefing materials, the four operators authorized to operate on January 8 saw more than $150m in betting handle in the first weekend of betting alone, with more than 650,000 player accounts utilized.

“I think we’ve seen its launch has been a success,” Mujica said. “We’re seeing it play out, people seem to be very engaged, and I think all of the participants both on the player side and the corporate side are seeing what they expected.”

Geolocation provider GeoComply added in a press release on Tuesday that the state has seen more than 878,000 unique players registered in its first ten days of operation through Monday afternoon, almost 88 percent of whom are brand new to regulated sports betting.

“The momentum of New York’s sports betting launch has continued, and it is mostly home-grown,” said Lindsay Slader, managing director of gaming at GeoComply. “The data tells us that New Yorkers are dumping illegal sportsbooks for the new legal options and operators are also excelling at attracting first-time bettors.”

GeoComply also reported that only about 9 percent of New York’s players to date have previously placed bets in New Jersey.

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