MGM ‘Somewhat Disappointed’, Bally’s Content With 2025 Timeline For Downstate Licensing

Written By Grant Lucas on May 3, 2024
Image of MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a story on MGM Resorts International and Bally's reacting to a late-2025 timeline for downstate NY casino licenses to be awarded.

Just over a year and a half remains until New York regulators likely issue out the three available downstate casino licenses.

Much has been reported on the frustration from bidders regarding that lengthy timeline. From Las Vegas Sands expressing their disappointment in the process to even Sen. Joseph Addabbo telling PlayNY that the end of 2025 is a “timeline that’s too long for my taste.” You can count MGM Resorts International among the crestfallen.

Then again, some gambling companies looking to capture a downstate license – which likely will open the door to offer online casinos in New York – see the extended process as a positive. That group includes Bally’s.

MGM ‘somewhat disappointed’ in long licensing process

Speaking during his company’s first-quarter earnings call this week, Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and president of MGM Resorts International, joined the growing crowd of detractors regarding the long licensing process.

“I will say we’re somewhat disappointed with the process in New York,” Hornbuckle said, “but we’ve been there since, I think, 2015 or ’16.”

MGM, of course, operates Empire City Casino in Yonkers, one of the favorites to land a downstate license along fellow racino Resorts World NYC. Empire City officially opened in 2006, and MGM took over 13 years later after buying the property from the Rooney family, the majority owner of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, for $850 million in cash and stock.

Now, MGM is ready to convert the property into a full-fledged casino. And all MGM can do is wait. Said Hornbuckle:

“We will remain patient, and we will remain focused. And the good news here for us is we like our chances, the City of Yonkers has our full support behind us.

Bally’s not as frustrated as other NY casino bidders

Just two months ago, Robeson Reeves told investors that Bally’s couldn’t “give you any color on New York’s timeline” when it comes to downstate licensing.

The Bally’s CEO expressed only optimism during that call in March, noting that his company had “a very, very compelling proposition and site” at the Ferry Point golf course that Bally’s put its name on in January.

This week, Reeves did not sway from that positive outlook as he addressed the downstate licensing timeline. In his eyes, waiting until 2025 is only good news for Bally’s.

“In New York, the licensing and approval process is extending further,” Reeves said. “We now anticipate a decision from the state no earlier than late 2025.

“While this delay will postpone the economic benefits from the planned integrated resort later into the future, it also reduces our immediate and medium term financing needs.”

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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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