Hochul wants to fast-track casinos in New York City metro area

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Governor Kathy Hochul is game for granting licenses to three new casinos this year, likely in the New York City region, according to her proposed state budget.

The governor’s $216.3 billion spending plan includes a proposal to add the trio of gambling houses sooner than a previous moratorium that was set to expire in 2023.

The state already has 11 casinos, including seven run by Indian nations and four upstate, and Hochul’s State Budget Director Robert Mujica said the new ones will likely come to the downstate area.

“We will issue an order to get bids in… there’ll be board that makes a selection process for casinos across the state largely the three will be probably focused in the downstate area but there’s no restriction there,” Mujica told reporters during a briefing Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Hochul made no mention of the casinos during her address presenting the budget, but her decision comes after reports that lawmakers backed by hotel and casino labor groups were lobbying Hochul to deliver the Las Vegas-style facilities in and around the population-rich Big Apple.

New York residents voted in 2013 to amend the state’s constitution allowing seven casino licenses outside of Indian reservations.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers wanted to start with just four casinos upstate to bring jobs to economically struggling areas and put a hold on expanding into the New York City metropolitan area until 2023 to allow the new businesses to gain a foothold.

Hochul’s proposal would allow the process to start sometime in 2022. 

Mujica did not give a specific date for awarding the three licenses, but if it’s passed with the budget by the state legislature it would probably come into effect after the April 1 deadline for the fiscal spending package.

The chair of the state Senate’s committee on racing, gaming, and wagering applauded Hochul’s move claiming it could rake in $1.5 billion in state revenues.

“I believe the inclusion of expediting the three full casino licenses for our downstate region has the potential to bring in $1.5 billion in revenue for the state, additional educational funding and improvements to problem gambling programs,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D–Queens) in a statement. 

“I look forward to continuing to work with the Hochul administration and the Gaming Commission to ensure that gaming in the state expands and advances in a credible, reasonable manner,” Addabbo said.