By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
The New York State Budget, which was due April 1st, has yet to be completed, and a bid to open a new casino in NYC has emerged. The 11th hour state budget talks between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders hope to raise more income to balance the overdue budget. As reported by the NY Post, Legislative sources said Cuomo was behind a proposal to form a “community advisory board” in the City to find a location for a casino, possibly in Manhattan. State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), who chairs the committee overseeing gambling issues, confirmed that licensing of a downstate casino is being mulled as part of the budget talks. “It’s being discussed. It’s part of budget negotiations,” said Addabbo. As is, the law allows that beginning in 2023, up to three casinos be authorized in the downstate region— an area which includes the city, the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island.
Back in January, as part of his executive budget plan, Cuomo had proposed sending out scouts to assess preliminary interest in casinos. Now, in order to add revenue, Cuomo and lawmakers are considering fast tracking that process and formally request proposals and license a casino or two as part of the 2021-2022 budget.
As per the Post, Addabbo said once it gets rolling, a casino license could bring in up to an estimated $500 million in income for the state. Many city lawmakers oppose opening a casino in their territory, however, because of all the negatives it would bring. “There’s a lot of opposition to opening a casino in Manhattan,” said Addabbo.
The proposed bill would form a NYC community advisory board to review casino applications consisting of 20 members. Five members would be appointed by each the governor, the senator majority leader and assembly speaker. The last five members would be appointed by the 15 appointees, once they are on the board.
Potential casino sites being considered include Willets Point in Queens, the Belmont Park development in Long Island, and Staten Island’s St. George neighborhood. Large casino companies including Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corp. and Las Vegas Sands have been eagerly preparing to compete for a NYC-area casino license. The gambling parlors at Aqueduct and Yonkers racetracks, which now only have electronic slot games, may also apply to convert into full-scale casinos with live table games.
Despite the $12.6 billion in stimulus funds which the federal government recently earmarked for NYS, state leaders are also expected to legalize app-based, mobile sports betting in order to generate more state income.