The three downstate New York casino licenses, part of the state budget bill ELFA Art. VII: A9006/S8006, passed in both the Senate and assembly.
Late Friday evening, the bill was passed in the Senate by an unofficial vote of 38-25. And even later than that, the bill was also passed in the assembly by an unofficial vote of 88-56.
All that’s left is Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature, which is nothing more than a formality at this point.
Downstate is defined as New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley.
Sen. Joe Addabbo said in a statement:
The inclusion of the downstate casino licenses in this year’s budget is a win for New York State and the local communities where these licenses will go. By allowing three casinos in the downstate region to operate with full licenses, it will create thousands of jobs when considering construction and credible post-construction union jobs. It also means additional revenue for the state, estimated at an initial $1.5 billion from the three license fees, and will allow us to significantly fund important educational and gaming addiction programs.
While this is a nice step forward for New York State, this does not mean our work is done. In fact, our work is just beginning. Following the budget, the legislature must monitor the timely, fair and transparent bidding process for the licenses, and ensure that the siting process is being credibly implemented. I look forward to working with my colleagues, the Gaming Commission and the Hochul Administration on the downstate license issue.
Next steps: Applications, locations, evaluations
The licensing fee to get into the downstate NY market will be no less than $500 million, as Assemb. Gary Pretlow told PlayNY on Thursday. The term of a license will be for no less than 10 years and no more than 30 years.
The tax rate on total gross gaming revenue from slot machines will be no less than 25%. The tax rate on total GGR from other sources will be no less than 10%.
Under the bill language, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGS) will establish a separate, six-member board (which cannot include state legislators or elected officials) to be known as the NY gaming facility location board. The majority of members must be appointed within 180 days of the bill becoming law.
The board will then issue a request for applications within 90 days of a majority of members being appointed.
Any entity looking to put a casino in a particular area of the downstate region would need approval from a separate community advisory committee that would also be composed of six members:
- One member of that committee would be selected by the governor
- A senator
- Borough president
- City council member representing the district
- NYC mayor
The community advisory committee would then solicit local input and be able to pass applications on to the next round by a two-thirds vote while making certain zoning requirements are met.
The NYSGS would then position the applicants who meet the criteria based on a scoring system that is comprised on:
- Economic development and business development: 70%
- Local impact siting: 10%
- Workforce enhancement: 10%
- Diversity framework: 10%
New NY casinos could be named by ‘end of year’
Sen. Addabbo told PlayNY earlier this week that he hoped the entire process could be completed by the end of the year. Pretlow added to that thought:
“I would like it to be earlier than that. I really don’t see what the hold up would be other than we have to open it up to everyone, and that’s what’s going to take time.”
Video lottery terminals MGM Empire City and Resorts World NYC have garnered local support to become full-scale casinos. And while they’d have to go through the competitive bidding process like everyone else, they’d have a distinct advantage in the scoring system in terms of speed to market.
Entities like Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock and Bally’s have all been aggressive with their interest in joining the coveted downstate NY casino market. Las Vegas Sands and Hard Rock have displayed interest in coming to New York City. However, they could meet heavy resistance from local council members looking to keep casinos out of their respective districts.
“I think it’s still, ‘Everybody needs to get their act together,’” Pretlow said.
“We’re actually throwing it all in the gaming commission’s court because they now have to do the request. And then the proposals will come in, and then we put together the location oversight board. And they’ll have to say yes or no on the location. And once that happens — how many of our submissions pass that first hurdle — and then they’ll go back to the gaming commission and they’ll score it and then we’ll get the licenses.”