Election Of New City Councilmember Could Derail Bally’s NY Casino Plans

Written By Grant Lucas on November 20, 2023
train with bally's logos goes off the rails for story on Bally's downstate NY casino bid being hindered by city council election

A change has come to the Bronx – and it doesn’t bode well for Bally’s in its quest for a downstate New York casino license.

In an ultrarare occurrence, Republican Kristy Marmorato defeated an incumbent to take a seat at the City Council. Even wilder, she did so in the Bronx, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than four to one. One more for good measure: She becomes the first Republican to win a City Council seat here since 1983.

How does that affect Bally’s? While the incumbent, Marjorie Velázquez, never got completely on board with a casino in her area, she at least showed some signs of potential support. Marmorato, meanwhile, remains staunchly against the project.

City Council election could trip up Bally’s NY casino bid

Earlier this year, Bally’s targeted Trump Golf Links in Ferry Point as the site of a potential downstate casino.

Already with Bally Bet NY in the NY sports betting space, Bally’s understandably looked for a brick-and-mortar casino complement.

And if things go well, should lawmakers legalize online casinos in NY, Bally’s would most assuredly have an inside track for licensing.

With Marmorato, however, Bally’s now faces a major obstacle. Especially considering that the downstate licensing process requires local support, including majority approval from a six-member panel that features a representative from the area City Council.

Velázquez had indicated previously that she looked “favorably” at the bid, especially after Bally’s introduced a free bus service in the area. Marmorato, on the other hand, is not as smitten.

“I’m opposed to the casino,” Marmorato, who campaigned on a platform centering around local control, said in an interview with the New York Daily News.

“We have the highest rates of asthma in the city, and this is going to be an environmental nightmare.”

Bally’s has work to do if it wants a casino license

Marmorato is not alone in her stance.

Matt Cruz, the district manager for the local community board, told the New York Daily News that many residents do not support a Bally’s casino.

In fact, he indicated, by Velázquez backing the project, it likely contributed to her demise in the election.

“Judging by Tuesday night’s outcome, I’m not sure they’re excited to present to us at this point,” Cruz said.

“The mood at this point for the casino is not positive.”

Bally’s reportedly paid $60 million to take over the golf course, now known as Bally Golf Links. If the company is even able to develop a casino on the site remains to be seen.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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