The panel that will ultimately decide where New York’s newest casinos will be located will hold its first meeting on the first workday of the new year.
The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) announced late Friday afternoon that its Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) will meet Tuesday afternoon in New York City. The agenda posted for the meeting shows the board will consider a “request for application” (RFA) to develop casinos.
The board will also discuss what the license fee will be for the casinos as well as the minimum required investment for the developments. State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, expects the licenses to go for at least $500 million each.
Tuesday’s meeting has been expected. On Oct. 4, the NYSGC announced the first three members of the location board. That started a 90-day clock for the state to develop the solicitation calling for proposals.
When New York lawmakers passed a budget in April, they included allowing up to three casinos, with those almost assuredly being located in New York City or other parts of Downstate New York.
The three casinos were included in the referendum New York voters approved in 2013. That constitutional amendment allowed for seven commercial casinos to be built, with the first four going to upstate locations and those casinos getting seven-year head start on any downstate venue.
By including the casino licenses in the 2022-23 fiscal year budget, state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul actually expedited the process by a year. They did that in hopes of generating new revenue for a state still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The casinos are also expected to spur job growth in the hospitality and construction sectors, both of which suffered significant job losses over the last couple of years.
In anticipation of the RFA release, several developers have already come forward and announced their plans to seek one of the available licenses.
Among the proposed sites that have already been announced include Brooklyn’s Coney Island, where Thor Equities, Saratoga Casino Holdings, The Chickasaw Nation, and Legends want to build a $3 billion resort, and Times Square in Manhattan, where New York-based REIT SL Green has proposed building a Caesars casino.
Las Vegas Sands also has been reportedly considering proposing to build a casino on Long Island, and several others are expected to apply as well.
Many also expect two existing downstate gaming facilities, Resorts World New York City in Queens and MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers, to also apply for licenses. Resorts World NYC and Empire City can only offer video lottery terminals, which differ technologically from Las Vegas-style slot machines, and electronic versions of table games.
Some say those two have an advantage in the process because they can be quickly converted to full-fledged casinos, meaning the state would start receiving additional tax revenue that much earlier.
Several Steps in the Process
Issuing an RFA is a key step in the licensing process, but there are other steps that must be completed before the GFLB can take action.
Any applicant must get at least two-thirds support from the Community Advisory Committee for their area. That committee will include the members appointed by local officials and Hochul. Applicants must also get local zoning approval as well.
If a project clears both local hurdles, the GFLB will then consider the impact it will have on revenues generated by existing facilities and other proposed casinos.
After the board makes its determinations, the NYSGC will make the final determination on which casino proposals will receive licenses.
The earliest any casino site is likely to be approved is late 2023.
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