New York Post: Casinos Are ‘Major Economic Busts’ That Gov. Hochul Should Not Support

Written By Grant Lucas on June 17, 2024
Man reads the New York Post for a story on an op-ed that urges Gov. Kathy Hochul not to expedite the downstate NY casino licensing process.

When lawmakers agreed to expedite the downstate casino licensing process in New York in spring 2022, it was seen as a victory for the Empire State.

A lucrative gambling industry around New York City, which could rival Las Vegas, would infuse the state with great tax revenue – a flow that would certainly assist the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which is in dire financial need.

An opinion piece from the New York Post recognizes the lean times faced by the MTA. But the editorial staff at the publication is not as convinced that the downstate casinos are the answer. In fact, the editorial board suggests that “it has got to be among the worst ideas yet to come from our legislative overlords.”

On the heels of Gov. Kathy Hochul opting against a congestion tax that would raise toll prices around Manhattan, the New York Post now urges the governor to stand up against the downstate casinos.

Downstate NY casino licensing process ‘stinks to high heaven’

Last week, the state Senate and Assembly agreed to pass legislation that could speed up the licensing process for three downstate casinos. As it stands, state officials expect to award the three licenses by the end of 2025. Those licenses become even more valuable once lawmakers legalize iGaming, as licensed casinos will likely then be authorized to offer online casinos in New York.

“The intent was to realize the jobs and economic growth and revenue,” Sen. Joseph Addabbo had previously told PlayNY. “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.”

Yet while those downstate licenses will surely represent a boon for the state, adding up to a minimum of $1.5 billion from initial fees alone, the New York Post editorial staff does not want Hochul to be lured so easily – especially considering the parties interested in obtaining a downstate license.

“First off,” the editorial board wrote, “the licensing process stinks to high heaven: The heavy wallets of the bidders – for the licenses in question, the minimum expected bid is $500 million on up to heaven knows how much – draw greedy pols like trash draws flies.

“The fat-cat gaming operators and real-estate firms in play for the licenses have a huge incentive to cough up big for the campaign coffers of politicians with influence over the process.”

Concerns remain over viability, crime attraction of casinos

The editorial staff did not stop there. They added:

“Equally important, casinos in general are major economic busts in the Empire State.”

Dating back to the first upstate casino opening in late 2016, the four commercial properties have combined for $3.96 billion in total NY casino revenue, leading to over $1 billion in state tax revenue.

In each of the past three years, those casinos have generated at least $600 million. That includes 2022 and 2023, when the four properties neared $700 million in revenue and around $170 million in state tax revenue. Of course, it should be noted that those full-fledged casinos are nowhere near the New York City area. Many believe the three downstate casinos could usurp the Las Vegas Strip as the epicenter of legal casino gambling.

The New York Post editorial board also noted that “new casinos tend not to generate new revenues but simply cannibalize gamblers from other casinos,” citing the Atlantic City casino industry as evidence.

Finally, the editorial staff concluded:

“And that’s to say nothing of the fact that, given an increasingly lawless environment in Gotham, casinos would be huge problem zones for prostitution, drugs and general public disorder.”

Photo by Mark Lennihan / 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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