As of Wednesday, talks to include expedited downstate New York casino licenses into the final state budget were “advancing nicely,” said Sen. Joe Addabbo.
Still, many more significant issues remain (bail reform, criminal justice, public stadium financing in Buffalo, healthcare, education, etc.) before the projected $220 billion NY State budget is final.
The budget was supposed to be completed by April 1, but an extender was implemented through Thursday so state employees could keep getting paid.
Now, another extender might be necessary if unresolved budget talks continue into Friday and, potentially, beyond. NY politics can be tough to predict, as last-minute changes could always occur.
“In Albany, nothing is done until everything is done,” was how one industry source put it.
To that end, Addabbo and his counterpart, Assemb. Gary Pretlow, continue to be cautiously optimistic during the process.
Working out the details
As previously reported by PlayNY, policymakers are still discussing finer details regarding the three remaining downstate casino licenses, which would be expedited from 2023 to 2022.
Those outstanding issues are in the final language as state policymakers look to come to an agreement including the creation of a siting committee, licensing fees and a scoring system as part of an open bidding process.
PlayNY confirmed that a six-or-seven member committee could include Gov. Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams.
The siting committee, which would take local input in determining where to put the new New York casinos, has been expected to include local and state officials, i.e., the governor, the mayor and borough presidents.
The $1 billion licensing fee in the Senate one-house proposal was met with resistance from several people with a vested interest in securing a license and is still being negotiated. The state-commissioned Spectrum study in January 2021 recommended a $500 million floor. And perhaps, the final fees could end up in the $750 million range, depending on the competitive bidding process.
Who would get the NY casino licenses?
A popular iteration with local backing has video lottery terminals (VLTs) Resorts World NYC (Queens) and MGM Empire City (Yonkers) both earning full-scale casino licenses. Both VLTs have an advantage because of the speed to market.
The third casino license then could go to the likes of Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock or Bally’s, which all have been aggressive in hopes of securing entry into the downstate NY casino market.
The City reported earlier this week that Mets’ owner Steve Cohen met with Mayor Adams in January to discuss the possibility of a casino going next to Citi Field. Cohen had also engaged in exploratory talks with Las Vegas Sands.
Cohen, of course, gave $1.5 million to a political action committee that supported Adams during his 2021 campaign. And when the private sector mandate was lifted, allowing unvaccinated NY athletes to play in home games, Mayor Adams held his press conference at Citi Field.
Having Mayor Adams’ support is key in this process.