Excitement Abounds To Begin Competitive Bidding Process For Downstate NY Casino Licenses

Written By Grant Lucas on January 4, 2023

A new year brings additional legal gambling expansion in New York.

And following the release of the request for applications for three downstate casino licenses earlier this week, proponents of the such authorization and pending opening of three NY casinos are eager for the process not only to get under way but also to be completed.

“I am looking forward to a transparent, accurate and speedy process from the New York Gaming Facility Location Board,” Sen. Joe Addabbo said in a statement, “under the guidance of the Gaming Commission, as they unanimously voted to issue a Request for Applications (RFA) to solicit proposals for up to three commercial casinos in New York State.”

Read more: Acquiring Downstate New York Casino License Will Cost $1 Billion

The quicker, the better when it comes to NY casino licensing

Addabbo, chair of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, emphasized his faith that the Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) will make the best short- and long-term decisions for awarding those three licenses. He also noted that he hopes this process does not take too long.

“The quicker the three licenses are approved, the quicker we can begin to realize the major benefits to the state, such as thousands of construction and post-construction jobs, billions in revenue from the licenses, an increase in problem gambling monies and programs, as well as billions more in educational funding when the winning casinos go live.”

While Addabbo, and many others, looked forward to this additional gaming expansion in the Empire State, the senator also reflected on 2022. A year that saw the launch of online sports betting in New York, and led to over $14 billion in handle, over $1 billion in gross gaming revenue, and over $620 million in state tax revenue through the first 11 months.

“And the benefits from that decision,” Addabbo said, “are now being felt across the state as New York has already taken in more than $500 million in tax revenue in just about one year.”

Interested parties eager to start with downstate casino plans

Coming as no surprise, gambling companies and real estate developers quickly came forward to praise the release of the RFA.

Empire City Casino

One of two VLTs expected to receive licensing to become full-fledged casinos in New York, Empire City Casino showed enthusiasm to begin the bidding process.

A spokesperson for the MGM Resorts casino noted that transitioning Empire City into a full-scale casino “will transform the community with an influx of 13,000 jobs … and $1 billion in economic activity to the region.

“As the largest operator on the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts has more experience in full-scale casinos and gaming than anyone, and we are eager to showcase the best our company and industry has to offer at Empire City. This historic property is part of the bedrock of the City of Yonkers and the region, and will be a primary economic engine that helps propel these communities and the Great State of New York forward.”

Thor Equities

In addition to expressing excitement for the RFA, the team of Thor EquitiesSaratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends jointly and formally announced their intent to make a bid for a Coney Island casino.

“For more than a generation, Coney Island has been waiting for a year-round economy that creates not just jobs – but careers,” the group said in a joint statement. “Our partnership is unique, combining unrivaled gaming expertise, an unsurpassed track record in entertainment, and a commitment to serving the local community like no other. We look forward to submitting our bid and setting a new standard in economic revitalization and resiliency for New York.”

The group will submit a plan to build a comprehensive casino, hotel and entertainment venue for Coney Island, funded entirely by private investments, according to a release.

“This is Brooklyn’s moment and we can think of no better place for a world-class entertainment destination than right here in Coney Island,” Melissa Gliatta, COO of Thor Equities, said in a statement.

“We are so excited to be working with Legends, The Chickasaw Nation, and Saratoga Casino Holdings to bring together the perfect combination of expertise, hometown pride, and commitment that will make Coney Island New York’s new beacon of economic opportunity. We look forward to submitting a comprehensive proposal that drives the local economy forward and is supportive of the entire local community.”

Las Vegas Sands

In spring 2022, Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein said during an earnings call that “New York has been on our radar for a long time. We continue to be in the hunt there.”

Goldstein did not offer specifics as to a potential location of a Sands NY casino. Although reports surfaced that New York Mets owner Steve Cohen held preliminary talks with Sands to build a casino in Queens. In addition, real estate developer Stefan Soloviev reportedly entered into discussions with several Las Vegas-based companies to bring a gaming facility to the Manhattan area. David A. Paterson, senior vice president for Sands, also told Newsday that the company remains unsure where the casino will sit, but “I’m the one who suggested that they look at Long Island because of all the congestion in Manhattan.”

Although they shared no further details, a spokesperson for Las Vegas Sands applauded New York for moving forward with the process of issuing downstate gaming licenses.

“As the world’s preeminent developer and operator of world-class integrated resorts and casinos, we are excited for the opportunity to present an extremely competitive and compelling proposal. These new licenses represent the potential to generate thousands of good paying jobs and build an exciting new industry for the region’s economy.”

Photo by Shutterstock / PlayNY
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the senior 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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