Lawmakers Pass Bill To Potentially Speed Up Downstate NY Casino Licensing

Written By Grant Lucas on June 11, 2024
Image of blurred city for a story on New York lawmakers passing a bill to speed up the downstate casino licensing process.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo got his wish to expedite the process for awarding three downstate casino licenses in New York.

But it still might not be as fast as he – and many others – would have liked.

Just before lawmakers concluded the legislative session last week, the Senate passed Addabbo’s bill, which was also ultimately agreed upon by the Assembly, to speed up the downstate licensing process by implementing set deadlines for each needed step.

Yet while Addabbo’s original proposal called for state officials to select the three recipients by March 31, 2025, the language agreed upon called for the Gaming Facility Location Board to make their recommendations for licensing by December 31, 2025.

Lawmakers, stakeholders ‘getting frustrated’ with timeline

Last month, Addabbo first presented his bill to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee. At the time, the bill’s justification noted that the proposal was “=designed to prevent stagnation and ensure that the licensing process moves forward efficiently.”

By setting a deadline of March 31, 2025, to award the three downstate licenses – which could allow recipients to offer NY online casinos once lawmakers legalize iGaming – that would mean state officials would need to officially accept applications by July 31.

That March date would notably hasten the licensing process, which the New York State Gaming Commission indicated would be completed by the end of 2025.

Addabbo had told PlayNY how he and his cohorts in Albany – not to mention the parties interested in obtaining a downstate license – were “getting frustrated” by how long the process has already taken, which began with a request for applications issued in January 2023.

“The intent was to realize the jobs and economic growth and revenue,” Addabbo told PlayNY last month. “Never in our wildest dreams did we ever thing that expediting it by one year that we were going to have wait three, four, five years.”

Bill includes deadlines to potentially speed up NY casino licensing

While lawmakers passed Addabbo’s bill (S9673) to expedite the process, on paper, it doesn’t appear as such. After all, the bill still sets a December 31, 2025, deadline. It actually includes language that could extend that date to March 2026. Despite that, as Addabbo hinted at to PlayNY, the overall goal of the proposal.

“I think we’ve learned a lesson here in that, when you have a gaming proposal like this, deadlines and timeframes are critically important,” Addabbo said last month. “Because as of right now, currently, the gaming commission can hold onto those 400 answers, never start that 30-day clock for downstate licenses, and they can hold onto those things for years if they wanted to.”

After the legislation passed, and awaits a signature from Gov. Kathy Hochul, the group behind The Coney proposal – which includes Saratoga Casino Holdings, Global Gaming Solutions, Legends, and Thor Equities – offered support for an expedited timeline. It also expressed their ability to get started on development sooner rather than later.

“The Coney is well positioned to meet the new review schedule and remains ready to put shovels in the ground on day one when approvals are ultimately granted,” the group said in a statement.

“We continue to work with our neighbors, the local business community, and stakeholders throughout Brooklyn on advancing this transformative project that will inject thousands of jobs and millions of dollars into the local economy.”

Photo by Shutterstock
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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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