Sen. Addabbo Hoping To Expedite Process For NY Downstate Casinos

Written By Mike Mazzeo on September 29, 2021
NYC casino update

New York State Senator Joe Addabbo hopes to expedite the process of awarding licenses for downstate casinos.

Currently, there is a moratorium in place stating that New York cannot issue its three downstate casino licenses until 2023. But the coronavirus pandemic and a growing state deficit will cause the moratorium to be revisited by state legislators.

“We were so close. And because we were so close, I’m hoping my colleagues feel that enthusiasm about expediting,” Addabbo told PlayNY. “It would only be a year quicker than the 2023 time frame that it’s already on. But if we can expedite the time frame for the downstate licenses to 2022, we could realize over $1 billion in revenue for that third license.”

Options For Lucrative Downstate Casino

Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World Aqueduct Raceway in Queens are operating as video lottery terminals. But one plan would see them both turn into full-scale casinos. In addition, a third license would be granted for a location TBD. Somewhere in the five boroughs like Manhattan or Brooklyn could be an option, as could Long Island or the lower Hudson Valley.

“If everybody assumes through an open process that MGM in Yonkers and Resorts World in Queens gets the graduated licenses, then that third license, we have operators out there, casino people, that would be willing to pay huge money for a license now, knowing that it will take three years possible to find a site and build something. They’ll pay now for that,” Addabbo said.

“Our state is still in the throes of a negative economic impact from Covid, with no $12 billion coming from the federal government. At least you can’t assume that. We’re going to need revenue. And so there’s $1 billion staring us in the face from downstate licenses. So that’s another conversation that we plan to have in January.”

Revenue Projections Are Steep

A study conducted by Spectrum Gaming for the NY Gaming Association in January projected that New York City could get $970 million to $4.49 billion in gross gaming revenue from downstate casinos and NY online sports betting ($606 million to $1.13 billion for Long Island).

“It can go anywhere from the Hudson Valley south through the five boroughs out to Nassau and Suffolk County. That’s for an open process to decide,” Addabbo said. “I understand the concerns of certain geographic areas. But if it’s done tastefully, it can work.

“Talking from experience, I’ve witnessed this and lived through this with Resorts World nestled in my hometown of Ozone Park. It’s generally residential, but yet they’ve been so successful, even 10 years later, because they became part of the community.”

Concerns about casinos could include an increase of traffic and crime, among other things.

“Normally, casinos go where you need them,” Addabbo said. “Whether that be a depressed economic area, or any area that needs an economic boost to create jobs, so that needs to be thought of as well. But that’s what an open process does: it flushes out where the appropriate places could be, and I look forward to working on that process.”

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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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