New York Downstate Casino Licenses Likely Delayed Until Late 2025

Land Based Casinos Law & Politics Business
Edward Scimia

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Edward Scimia

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Last Updated on 27th March 2024, 04:52 PM

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New York Downstate Casino Licenses Likely Delayed Until Late 2025

The New York State Gaming Commission now expects the licensing process for three potential downstate casinos to drag on through late 2025, though it still insists the process is on schedule in terms of providing revenue to the state.

That announcement was made at the Gaming Commission’s Monday meeting, during which Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams laid out the possible timeline for further steps in the licensing process. 


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Land Use Issues, Environmental Analysis Delaying Licensing Process

Williams spoke again on the need for the New York City Council to approve a land use amendment that would make it easier for casinos to find land and earn approvals in the city. 

“I have been informally advised that navigating the process will extend through the second quarter of 2025,” Williams said, speaking of the land use amendment. 

Williams also noted that any bidders will have to navigate the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which will evaluate the environmental impact of any casino project.

Under Williams’ current timeline, Community Advisory Committees would vote to either support or reject casino bids by the end of the summer of 2025. Once that is complete, the state could soon approve projects and begin to collect the $500 million licensing fees for each casino, according to Williams. He noted that the New York State government is not anticipating any revenues from casinos – money earmarked to help bankroll the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – until 2026.

Local Officials Want Faster Movement on Casino Approval

While that may be true, the delays have left many local politicians frustrated. The bidding process opened in January 2023, and the current schedule has the process lasting nearly a full three years.

“It’s absurd that it’s going to take three years to put shovels in the ground,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said, via the New York Post. “We’re trying to rebuild the New York economy. People are looking for good jobs and upward mobility. I hope they have a change of heart.”

However, Williams and the Gaming Commission are saying that attempting to move ahead with the licensing process before those reviews and other issues are resolved. Those include not only the land use issues and environmental reviews, but also the fact that some projects – like Steve Cohen’s proposal to add a casino next to Citi Field in Queens – would also need additional state approvals.

“The Board is cognizant of the many factors relating to the zoning requirement, including New York City’s proposed text amendment relating to gaming facilities and of the many zoning-related questions posed by applicants during the first two rounds of questions,” the Gaming Commission said in a statement. “The updated timeline, expected to be finalized soon, will consider these and other factors.”

If casino licenses are awarded in late 2025, it may be until 2027 or later until any new venues could be opened. However, some bidders may be able to take advantage of their licensing on a shorter timeline. For instance, Resorts World New York City and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway both already offer electronic gaming, and could quickly pivot to full casino operations if they won a license from the state.

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Edward Scimia
Edward Scimia
Journalist Journalist

Ed Scimia is a freelance writer who has been covering the gaming industry since 2008. He graduated from Syracuse University in 2003 with degrees in Magazine Journalism and Political Science. In his time as a freelancer, Ed has worked for About.com, Gambling.com, and Covers.com, among other sites. He has also authored multiple books and enjoys curling competitively, which has led to him creating curling-related content for his YouTube channel "Chess on Ice."

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