Acquiring Downstate New York Casino License Will Cost $1 Billion

Written By Grant Lucas on January 4, 2023

The Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) has released the official request for applications (RFA) to develop downstate New York casinos.

The GFLB, the operating arm of the New York State Gaming Commission to determine which operators will receive licensing, put out the 70-page RFA late Tuesday.

While a distinct timeline for the issuance of these final three NY casino licenses is absent within the otherwise greatly detailed RFA, a few pieces of information did become more clear.

Namely, the board set the license fee at $500 million. There is also a “Minimum Capital Investment” of $500 million. At minimum, selected applicants will pay $1 billion to enter the New York gambling industry.

Read more: Excitement Abounds To Begin Competitive Bidding Process For Downstate NY Casino Licenses

Selection process for NY casino licensing

The GFLB included its scoring system for how it will ultimately approve applicants.

  • Economic activity and business development (70%)
  • Local impact siting (10%)
  • Workforce enhancement (10%)
  • Diversity framework (10%)

Within that first category sits the “Minimum Capital Investment” of $500 million. But it’s not just a one-time fee. The GFLB requires applicants to detail how they will spend that money. That includes costs related to construction of the gaming facility and hotel, pre-opening furniture, fixtures and gaming equipment, as well as any professional and management fees for engineers, architects, developers and contractors.

Notably, this “Minimum Capital Investment” should not include the cost of purchasing or leasing the land where the casino will reside.

In addition, during this process, each applicant will propose tax rates on gross gaming revenue. The NYSGC will ultimately determine those rates, pursuant to the bidding process laid out in the RFA. While officially unset, however, the minimum tax rates will be 25% on slots and 10% on all other games.

Board requires approval from Community Advisory Committee

In the introduction of the 70-page RFA, the history of New York casino gaming was quickly summarized. In 2013, the New York State Constitution was amended to authorize up to seven commercial casinos in the state. Four have since opened upstate. Of course, last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on the state budget that paved the way for downstate casinos closer to and even possibly within New York City.

While much of the application process is the same, the GFLB noted, one significant difference exists. The board requires a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to approve of any applicant, as well as complete all zoning requirements, before the GFLB even begins evaluating an application. All of this, according to the RFA, “ensures that only projects embraced by the community are placed before the Board for consideration.”

Who will comprise a local CAC

Each local CAC will include members appointed by elected officials.

Within New York City, that means six members will be selected by:

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul
  • NYC Mayor Eric Adams
  • Applicable State Senator, Assemblymember, Borough President and City Councilmember

Outside of New York City, the Community Advisory Committee will only feature five members as chosen by:

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul
  • Applicable County Executive, State Senator, Assemblymember, Local Senior Elected Official (mayor, supervisor or both)

Each CAC will appoint a chair at its first meeting then open their doors for public comments. The committees will hold public meetings and hearings when appropriate to best gauge the public interest (or lack thereof) for a new casino in the area.

What’s next with NY casino license process?

Now that the RFA has been issued, the countdown begins for when we might see the first full-fledged casino in the New York City area. Although there is no end date just yet.

The next step is a 4 p.m. deadline on Feb. 3 for applicants to submit their first set of questions regarding the RFA. After that, there are no set deadlines. Once each milestone of each “stage” is completed, only then will the GFLB schedule deadlines.

Stage 1Stage 2
RFA issued - January 3, 2023Zoning completion deadline - To be announced
Applicants’ first set of questions due by 4:00 p.m. ET - February 3, 2023Board announces remaining Applicants - To be announced
Board responses to first set of questions - To be announcedSupplement Return Date: Supplements due by 4 p.m. ET - To be announced
Applicants’ second set of questions due by 4:00 p.m. ET - 30 Days from the Board’s response to the first set of questionsApplicant public presentations to Board - To be announced
Board responses to second set of questions - To be announcedBoard public comment event(s) - To be announced
Return Date: Applications due by 4 p.m. ET (CAC process begins) - 30 Days from the Board’s response to the second set of questionsBoard selection of Applications to proceed to licensure consideration by the Commission - To be announced
Applicant submits revisions/updates based on CAC suggested changes (if applicable) - To be announced
CAC vote deadline - To be announced
Applicant submits proposal to applicable zoning authorities - To be announced
Photo by Shutterstock / PlayNY
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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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