New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget plan allows the state to award three downstate casino licenses, and local policymakers have expressed confidence that will occur.
One such plan, which has local backing, would enable existing video lottery terminals (VLTs), Resorts World NYC (Queens) and MGM Empire City (Yonkers) to become full-fledged NY casinos. A competitive bidding process would decide who gets the third license.
Some corporations have expressed the desire for new construction in Manhattan — which could take three to five years — though finding footing in any of the five boroughs of New York City figures to be a daunting challenge.
According to a Spectrum Gaming Group study, the three downstate casino licenses could be worth $1.5 billion or more to NY.
Resorts World wants casino in New York City
In a recent interview with PlayNY, CMO Darlene Monzo expressed Resorts World’s desire to secure a downstate license:
“That has been our vision (an NYC casino) for the last 10 years. Genting didn’t come to New York to have a place with slots. The vision was always that we have one of the largest slot floors in the country — 6,500 slots on the Queens property — and we have a full-service casino up at the Catskills. But the dream, the vision was to always have it in New York City, and we have such great support from the Queens area.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to be putting it. And with the governor’s initiative to award additional licenses, we truly want that. It’s important to us, it’s important to Queens, and it’s important to a lot of the hospitality workers that are out of work right now.
“We are 2 miles — not even — from JFK (Airport) as a travel business. And not only what that would bring in America — it’s the Big Apple — but the volume of international business that we could drive would be tremendous given our location. And we are ready. One thing I will say is (as it pertains to) speed to market, we have the facility. We have a third floor. It’s ready. And the minute that we would be granted a license, we could really have money directly to New York in the form of tax dollars faster than anyone.”
Resorts World also has a full-fledged upstate casino in Catskills and will allow another VLT in the Hudson Valley (Orange County) in the fall of this year.
MGM has similar NYC casino hopes as long as money works
MGM Resorts International CEO and president Bill Hornbuckle expressed similar sentiments during the corporation’s latest earnings call in February:
“It will take some time. Obviously, we need to understand what the tax is going to be, what the licensing fee is going to be. It will determine a great deal, presuming we’re fortunate enough to win a license and ultimately go forward,” Hornbuckle said.
“If we do it, I would say the way it was done in National Harbor, where you have an opportunity to create great jobs, a great environment, a great property because the tax ultimately and the fee is reasonable enough to allow us to do that, you’re looking at a spend somewhere in the $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion phase 1, give or take. We have 97 acres there. We go back and forth what kind of things we might want to put there. We could see quickly in the existing environment a couple of hundred tables.
“We currently have 5,500 slots, which is massive. And so we reduced that to a certain degree. And then we build it out over time, clearly a need for a structured garage. But there’s a much broader vision to be had longer term.
“I think — and look, the opportunity, the location, all of the things that would be meaningful to us in terms of a network and ultimately, omnichannel back here, both with BetMGM and ultimately Las Vegas as a cornerstone to that discussion, could be very meaningful for the company. But we’ve got to be given the opportunity to spend capital to make it work. And so it really hinges on that discussion almost more than anything else. But that’s a starting point, I think, a good way to think about it.”
Resorts World has realistic online sports betting vision in NY
Resorts World joined the online sports betting scene in NY. Resorts WorldBet became the eighth operator to launch in the state on March 3.
Monzo said the delay was due to not already having a sports betting app. She added that Resorts World had opportunities to launch elsewhere but wanted to first do so in the Empire State. Resorts WorldBet is under the PointsBet NY platform. Monzo said:
“PointsBet is an amazing platform, and we got to see them launch theirs. Some of the other platforms; they hit a few bumps. And, I think sitting back now, strategically we’ve gotten to see some of the things that we could do better. Looking back, I think it was the right move for us.”
Resorts WorldBet doesn’t have grand visions of competing with the heavyweights in the market for a massive online sports betting share. Monzo continued:
“We’re looking at mobile (sports wagering) to make sure that we have all the amenities and large, diverse offerings for our guests. It’s not about being No. 1, No. 2 or even No. 3 in the market for us. We’re not looking to lose money in any business that we’re in, so we’re looking at it smart and strategically. We want to have a complete offering for our guest, but you won’t see us trying to fight for a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 position in mobile sports betting.”
Like others, Monzo expressed displeasure over the 51% tax rate.
“Do I think it’s sustainable? No, I don’t. I don’t think it’s a viable business at 51%. That doesn’t include all the tax dollars on your promotional offers. So I do think there may need to be some adjustment in order for these big operators to remain in the state and be able to operate — some of them are even for sale, right.”
Resorts World would love to have iGaming in NY
But there’s no concern about NY online casino gaming coming — even if it’s unlikely to happen this year. Monzo said:
“I think that we have seen in other states that iGaming has done very little to hurt the brick-and-mortar operations, and we would love to have iGaming.
“Our customers ask for it every day. And just as New York saw immediate success with mobile sports betting, folks are driving to New Jersey and other surrounding states every day and betting on iGaming. I think it will only add to our continued success that we’ve had in New York. So yes, we’re very interested in it. We don’t think it would hurt our existing properties, and we’re looking forward to opening up Hudson Valley in the fall, so that’s another success that we have for New York. That’s a natural next for us.”