[toc]North Jersey is getting hammered from both sides these days.
With Atlantic City on edge about the state’s November referendum that would allow up to two new casinos in North Jersey, New York has now entered the conversation because of fears that neighboring casinos could cut into the projected revenue of four casinos, three of which plan to open next year.
That a state is complaining about the possibility of nearby casinos putting a dent in profits isn’t anything new, but this is the first time New York officials have spoken up in relation to the November referendum.
The source of these concerns comes from BloodHorse.com reporter Tom Precious, who wrote this past week that “officials in New York have been quietly discussing ways to ‘send a shot across the Hudson River’ in advance of New Jersey’s fall referendum.”
The quotes he gathered from state officials were given on condition of anonymity.
No names were given in the story. However, one could conclude that officials are wary of the referendum because New York is in the midst of a substantial casino expansion initiative.
The expansion received a significant boost this past December when state officials approved licenses for three of the four casinos in the initiative: Rivers Casino & Resort, del Lago Resort & Casino and Montreign Resort Casino.
Tioga Downs, a Southern Tier facility, won approval to convert into a full-scale casino but has yet to be licensed. All four casinos are under construction.
Initial revenue projections for new casinos
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration researched the financial impact of the proposed casinos, it was estimated that the state would receive an additional $300 million per year.
However, much like a recent report from SUNY that questioned the long term benefits of new casinos in Pennsylvania, the New York plan had its detractors.
Bennett Liebman, a government lawyer-in-residence at Albany Law School, was quoted as saying that New York was facing slow growth in gaming revenues – much like the rest of the country – and that “there is no reason to think it’s going to be any different, even with additional casinos.”
Officials may shift course on development
While the positive revenue effects of the upstate casinos may be in question, officials are certain the impending New Jersey referendum will threaten whatever dollars may come in from the trio of licensed casinos.
For this reason, Blood-Horse’s Precious wrote, that “well-placed sources” have said the state is “considering a plan” in which New York’s three remaining casino licenses would be put up for bid to developers who want to open properties further south.
Conflict of interest? Gural has skin in both games
Ironically, the one yet-to-be-licensed New York casino is Tioga Downs, a harness track owned by Jeff Gural, who is also the CEO of New Meadowlands in New Jersey, the site at which, experts predict, a new casino will be built if the November referendum passes.
Gural has been a vocal opponent to those who’ve voiced concern about the effect of the referendum on Atlantic City casino, particularly the worries expressed by Resorts Casino Hotel CEO Mark Giannantonio.