If everything goes according to plan, there will be two New York City casinos in 2023. The state may issue licenses for those properties as soon as this year, however.
The state has a clear motivation for potentially accelerating the licensing process: it desperately needs money.
Why the state might license New York City casinos sooner
It’s all about getting the license fees as soon as possible. New York state Sen. James Skoufis estimates that without federal intervention, the state will have to take measures to mitigate a budget shortfall of $10-$13 billion in the current fiscal year.
The price tag for those two casino licenses is $500 million each. While that $1 billion wouldn’t solve the entire problem, it would make all the difference for several state agencies and programs.
If lawmakers are successful with their attempt to enact the necessary adjustments, licenses could be awarded by the end of this year, or early next year. Skoufis says there is momentum toward that goal in Albany right now.
The senator is clear that the state would only accelerate the licensure, not the actual opening of the casinos. While New York City casinos may represent a boon for the state coffers, their presence will have consequences.
As with most things, that will be a mix of negative and positive. Judging those qualities also depends greatly on the eye of the beholder.
Not everyone may be excited about NYC casinos
Less than 100 miles from New York City, Resorts World Catskills currently echoes silently. That’s because New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t given approval for commercial casinos in the Empire State to resume operations.
Resorts World Catskills is leading the charge to change that, arguing it’s ready to welcome guests back safely. The casino is in the same position the state treasury is in.
Resorts World Catskills has struggled to meet its revenue projections since opening, leading its original operators to sell the property. Two additional NYC casinos could harm the prospects of that sale.
It’s unclear exactly how many guests the casino pulled from the New York City area on a regular basis before the shutdown. At the very least, however, two new casinos in the city would force Resorts World to work harder to convince people in the metro to make the drive.
The same would go for every other current commercial and tribal casino operator in the state. For New York City residents, however, it could be a win. That would mean more than just poker, slots, and table games in their backyards.
NYC casinos could bring legal sportsbooks to the city
Right now, NYC residents have a few options for legal sports betting, and none of them are really ideal. Those people can either cross state lines into Pennsylvania or New Jersey to wager online, or, in normal times, visit the retail sportsbooks in upstate New York casinos.
New York law bans online betting and restricts legal wagering to casinos. While there is momentum to change that, it may take years to do so. It’s very possible that the two new casinos could open before that occurs.
The new casinos in NYC could house legal brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. That would bring legal wagering to NYC, even if only on a retail basis.
While that all remains in the realm of possibility, the state’s budgetary needs are very real right now. For that reason, New York City casino licenses may be awarded very soon.