N.Y. budget fast-tracks process for licensing downstate casinos

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N.Y. budget fast-tracks process for licensing downstate casinos
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ALBANY — It’s a sure bet that New York will soon be home to at least one Las Vegas-style casino.

New York’s Democrat-controlled Legislature approved a $220 billion state budget on Saturday that will open a competitive bidding process this year for a trio downstate casino licenses.

The licenses will go for a minimum of $500 million each and while the state Gaming Commission will control the bidding, a six-member community advisory committee will have a say over the proposed locations.

That means the five boroughs could soon see full-scale gambling parlors open their doors.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), the chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering committee, called the inclusion of the casino licenses in the budget “a win for New York State and the local communities.”

New York currently has 11 casinos upstate, seven of which are run by Native American tribes, and four commercial sites that opened following a change to the state Constitution in 2013.

Under the constitutional amendment, a prohibition was placed on allowing an additional three casinos to operate downstate until 2023.

Gov. Hochul decided to roll the dice with her initial budget proposal, which included measures accelerating the timeline and canceling the penalties future downstate operators would have to pay to the upstate casino owners if they moved forward before the ban expired.

Experts say a pair of existing racinos, Resorts World Queens at Aqueduct Racetrack and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway in Westchester County, are hands down favorites to land two of the licenses.

Both sites have video slots and are expected to bid for the full licenses, allowing them to offer table games like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker.

Robert DeSalvio, the president of Genting Americas East which operates Resorts World Queens, said his company is prepared to bring some Sin City-style gambling to Ozone Park.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the State and local stakeholders on this important and timely leap forward,” he said. “We are ready, willing and able to immediately double our workforce by adding more than 1,000 new union jobs and help the true potential of resort-style gaming, entertainment and hospitality be realized right here in the heart of Queens.”

The third license remains a wildcard, Addabbo told the Daily News last week after Mayor Adams said he’d like to see two casinos in the city.

Addabbo said that there is still a lot of work to do no matter where the casinos eventually are.

“Following the budget, the Legislature must monitor the timely, fair and transparent bidding process for the licenses, and ensure that the siting process is being credibly implemented,” he said.