Las Vegas Sands ‘Very Disappointed’ By Drawn-Out Downstate Casino Licensing Process

Written By Grant Lucas on April 23, 2024
Sign for Las Vegas Sands casino in Macau for a story on the company expressing frustration about the long downstate New York licensing process taking place.

Eagerness abounds for the arrival and opening of three downstate casinos in New York.

Which does not bode well considering that patience is key during the licensing process. After all, the New York State Gaming Commission noted during its most recent meeting that regulators likely won’t award those three licenses until late 2025.

Such a long time between issuing the request for applications, which came in early 2023, and that final decision has not sat well with those gaming companies that are looking to get in on an untapped and lucrative market around New York City. And that list includes Las Vegas Sands.

“We’re very disappointed by New York,” Patrick Dumont, president and chief operating officer at Sands, said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

“I mean, we’ve been working there for a long time and we thought it was going to happen in ’24. … Now they’re saying ’25 or ’26, but I don’t think we have any real clarity.”

Downstate licensing process ‘confusing and disappointing’ for Las Vegas Sands

Sands is among the dozen or so bidders who have developed casino proposals throughout downstate, which could open the door to offer online casinos in New York once lawmakers legalize iGaming.

Of course, Sands finds itself embroiled in a lengthy and heated battle as it looks to turn Nassau Hub on Long Island into a casino resort. That includes a Supreme Court justice striking down Sands’ 99-year lease agreement with Nassau County and ruling that Sands’ separate arrangement between Nassau Coliseum’s prior occupant was invalid.

But none of that has apparently taken a toll on Sands’ confidence and hopes for a New York casino. And that makes this lengthy licensing process all the more frustrating.

“To be honest with you,” Dumont said, “it’s confusing and disappointing because we’ve done a lot of work in New York and a lot of time into it. So I have no guidance because I don’t really know what to tell you with candor and insight. Just don’t know about New York.

“And it’s just wish – we wish they figured it out and let us know. We just don’t know. So we’ll remain hopeful that things turn around there.”

Frustration continues to build over long licensing process

Last week, the New York City Council passed an amendment to existing zoning regulations that would allow for casinos to operate in currently restricted areas.

While perceived as a win for incoming facilities, as previously mentioned, we still sit over a year and a half away from state officials handing out the three downstate licenses.

And, as Dumont made clear, frustration has mounted.

“It’s a timeframe that’s too long for my taste,” Sen. Joseph Addabbo told PlayNY in March. “That’s never, ever what the legislature had in mind when we expedited the timeframe for the downstate licenses by one year.”

Robert Williams, executive director of the NYSGC, detailed why the timeline stretched into late 2025, highlight “two substantial checkpoints” before regulators can issue licenses. Those “legislative requirements,” as NYSGC Chair Brian O’Dwyer put it, created this slower-than-expected process.

Photo by Kin Cheung / AP Photo
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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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