Lawmakers, workers union push Gov. Hochul for up to three casino licenses in New York City area
on Saturday, lawmakers in New York are now pushing for up to three casino licenses in the NYC region. Backed by the hotel and casino workers union, legislators are pushing Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature to take action on the issue.
According to parties involved, the pitched casino expansion could provide thousands of jobs, which would make up for the employment loss now faced following two years of Coronavirus pandemic, reports New York Post.
“Issuing full gaming casino licenses downstate has moved to the top of my agenda,” said Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), chairman of the state Assembly Committee on Gaming and Wagering. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens), chair of the Senate gambling committee, also called for action to license downstate casinos to start this year.
According to Pretlow, Genting’s Resorts World gambling parlor at Aqueduct race track, and MGM’s Empire City slots parlor at Yonkers Raceway, could have a “head start” to win two of the three downstate licenses. The venues currently only offer slot-style video lottery games, while an expanded license would allow for the inclusion of table games.
The licenses could fetch upward of $750 million for the state treasury, the lawmakers said, according to the previously cited news source. While Addabbo said MGM and Resorts World are naturally fit for full casino licenses, given a firm track record and political support from the surrounding communities, he also said he supports a third license for a region that includes New York City, Long Island and northern suburbs - Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.
According to the New York Post, support has also been shown by workers unions: Rich Maroko, president of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council Union, a labor leader representing 40,000 hotel and casino workers, said thousands of hotel workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic could be rehired by city casinos should the plan go forward.
Meanwhile, Resorts World at Aqueduct has shown it is eager to launch full casino operations in the state. “Between the upcoming launch of our mobile sports platform and the potential for a full casino license in Queens, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of gaming in New York,” the company said in a statement.
According to Resorts World, if granted a full casino license, the venue would be able to “immediately hire and train” hundreds of new union members, while generating more revenue for public schools and continuing “to be a powerful economic engine” for local small businesses and the community.
A casino race for the three downstate licenses is expected to feature many heavy names in the industry. In response to a request for expressions of interest launched by the gaming commission last year, the regulator received letters from about a dozen casino operators. These include Bally’s; Las Vegas Sands; Wynn Resorts; Hard Rock International; Rush Street Gaming; UE Resorts; Resorts World at Aqueduct; and MGM’s Empire Center in Yonkers.
However, a possible source of conflict has been detected on how the New York City area casinos could impact struggling upstate casinos. Upstate New York has 11 Vegas-style venues, seven of them run by Indian nations.
According to Clyde Barrow, a gambling expert and political science professor cited by New York Post, expansion of gaming to the New York City area could prove to be a lucrative deal, given a large amount of population, but could siphon revenues or even lead to closings of upstate casinos. “It’s just a question of when and how,” he said.
The state’s gaming commission is next set to release a report showing the results of the request for information submissions from casino operators no later than six months from December 10, 2021.