Awaiting approval from Gov. Hochul

New York legislators approve bill setting deadline for downstate casino licensing amid prolonged delays

Reading time 1:36 min

The New York State Senate and Assembly have passed legislation to establish a firm deadline for the casino licensing process in downstate New York. The bill, SB 9673, is now awaiting approval from Governor Kathy Hochul.

On June 7, the Senate approved the bill by a 51-4 vote, followed by the Assembly's approval with a 51-9 vote. Sponsored by Senator Joe Addabbo, the legislation mandates that the New York Gaming Facility Location Board must make recommendations for the selection of three downstate casino sites by December 31, 2025.

The final deadline for issuing licenses is set for March 31, 2026. An earlier version of the bill proposed a deadline a year earlier but was amended before passage.

The bill's provisions allow for a potentially quicker timeline than the March 2026 deadline, as it permits developers to apply for licenses while still resolving land use issues. Applications for the casino licenses are due by August 31 of this year.

Addabbo estimates that the three new casinos could generate up to $3 billion in license fees, with each license potentially fetching bids of up to $1 billion.

Governor Hochul is expected to sign the bill, given her previous support for retail casino expansion. The discussions surrounding the awarding of the three casino licenses have been ongoing for three years.

Progress stalled in October following the assessment of a second round of questions from potential applicants by the New York Gaming Facility Location Board. The first set of questions was submitted in February 2023 and answered in August.

The board clarified that companies awarded a downstate casino license could include a retail sportsbook in their properties. The initial license fee is set at a minimum of $500 million, and there is a required minimum capital expenditure of $500 million to build the facility, excluding consultation and lobbying fees.

The bidding process for the three commercial casinos began in January of the previous year, with interest from major operators like MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Hard Rock International.

However, progress has been slow due to unresolved land use questions and ongoing environmental reviews, which are not expected to conclude until the first quarter of next year. Any required changes resulting from these reviews could cause further delays.

The New York State Gaming Commission has urged applicants to use the remainder of 2024 to ensure their proposals meet all regulatory requirements to avoid additional delays.

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