NYC on track to get at least one casino license as Adams guns for two
The state Legislature is on track to award at least one full-blown casino license to a gambling operator in the city as part of this year’s budget, a key lawmaker involved in negotiations said Thursday.
Queens State Sen. Joe Addabbo, who chairs his chamber’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, told the Daily News that negotiators have agreed to bake three casino licenses into the budget.
Two of those licenses are likely to be given to the Resorts World Casino in Queens and the Empire City Casino in Westchester County, Addabbo said. Both of those locations are currently only allowed to offer slot machine and racing betting, but with full casino licenses, they could start hosting table games like poker and blackjack as well.
The third license expected to be greenlighted in the budget remains a wildcard, Addabbo said. Under previous legislative agreements, it would have to be awarded in the city, the Hudson Valley or Suffolk or Nassau Counties, but negotiators have not yet zeroed in on a specific location, according to Addabbo.
Mayor Adams, meantime, made clear Wednesday he would like to see the city score the third license — at which point the Big Apple would have two full casino gambling facilities.
“We would love to have two in New York City,” Adams told reporters, adding that the gambling dens would “help boost our economy and tourism” as the city scrambles to bounce back from a pandemic-induced recession.
Addabbo, who represents a section of Queens that includes the Resorts World Casino, said he agrees with the mayor.
“Of course, as a lifelong Queens resident, it would mean a massive economic jolt for the city,” he said, adding that the Legislature is angling to sell each casino license for a whopping $1 billion.
Still, Addabbo cautioned he could not commit to making sure the five boroughs would get two casinos.
“Anything is possible,” he said.
The state budget is due Friday morning, but legislative leaders cautioned Thursday that they likely won’t pass it until next week due to loose ends on many issues, including public safety and casino licenses.
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.
But under a proposal unveiled by Gov. Hochul for this year’s budget that is gaining traction, that prohibition would be scrapped and downstate operators would not have to pay fees to the upstate casino owners if they moved forward before 2023.
Support for casino expansion in the city is widespread in the State Senate, but powerful members of the Assembly have raised concerns about it.
“Personally, I’m not a big fan of gambling,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who represents a section of Northeastern Bronx, said earlier this month about Hochul’s plan. “It’s fair game to discuss it.”
Another Bronx-representing politician had a different take Thursday.
“Totally support this,” Bronx Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, tweeted of Adams’ push for two city casinos. “Bring it to the South Bronx … Have a great spot in Hunts Point.”