Zoning Proposal From NYC Mayor Adams Paves Way For NY Casino Projects

Written By David Danzis on December 13, 2023
new york city mayor eric adams proposed a zoning amendment to assist downstate casino projects

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is proposing changes to local zoning regulations that would allow casino development in the Big Apple.

The greater NYC area — which includes the five boroughs, Long Island and the counties of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam — is about to get three full-scale casino resorts.

State gambling regulators are painstakingly moving through the licensing process at glacial speed. But downstate casinos are indeed coming.

Rezoning proposal aims to cut out potential conflicts of NY casino development

As are the billions of dollars in projected economic impact on the surrounding areas and millions of additional tax dollars for local municipalities.

With that certainty in mind, the Adams administration wants to eliminate possible conflicts with the state’s zoning laws so that NYC-proper does not lose out on a potential casino development project(s) to Long Island or the northern counties.

Specifically, Adams, who has gone on record to express his desire for New York City to host two downstate casinos, is suggesting a citywide zoning text amendment allowing gaming facilities in certain commercial and manufacturing districts. The area’s current zoning laws do not address casino gaming (the racino in Queens is on state land).

And the administration is concerned about future litigation.

Where rezoning plan currently stands

The City Planning Commission referred the administration’s proposal to the Community Board for review. The Board has up to 60 days to approve before it moves on to the next phase, of which there are several. City Council must also sign off on the changes.

Dan Garodnick, director of the Department of City Planning and Planning Commission chairman, reportedly told the New York Post:

“As the state considers proposals for casinos downstate, it’s important that we create a level playing field for applicants within New York City so they can compete for this opportunity.

“This text amendment would avoid duplicating the state’s rigorous licensing process, which includes local representation on the CAC [Community Advisory Committee], while setting up a rational framework for consideration within our zoning.”

Regulators still poring over second round of questions

The state has not yet begun the NY casino license application process. The Gaming Facility Location Board is reviewing a second round of questions submitted by potential applicants. The answers to those questions will be made public before the formal license application is available.

Part of the NY casino licensing process is approval from a six-member CAC. The committee includes elected officials from the district and borough where the project will be located.

Ultimately, the New York State Gaming Commission will award three downstate casino licenses. The trio of gaming licenses is expected to be awarded sometime in 2024.

MGM Empire City, Resorts World NYC still frontrunners for licensing

Two existing racinos — MGM Empire City in Queens and Resorts World NYC in Yonkers — are considered frontrunners for two available licenses, which could open an avenue for NY online casino licensing once lawmakers legalize the vertical.

The belief is that converting them into full-scale casinos is easier than constructing new facilities.

However, there is a growing belief that the two properties are doing well without table games and real slots. As such, new casino projects would spur additional economic growth in other areas.

That, in turn, would attract food and beverage, entertainment and retail activity. Gambling expansion proponents say all of these will generate tax revenue and create jobs.

Photo by Ed Reed / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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