Major Casinos Compete For Manhattan License

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Major Casinos Compete For Manhattan License
© USA Today

New casino licenses won’t be issued in New York until at least next year, but major gaming operators already are vying to open resorts in New York City. Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment is the latest to seek one of three downstate casino licenses, announcing plans this week for a casino in Times Square.

Caesars is teaming with SL Green Realty Corp. to redevelop the property at 1515 Broadway into a major casino and theater for “The Lion King” stage production. Caesars Sportsbook New York already operates a mobile sports betting app in the state.

SL Green Realty says it has an advantage over others seeking a downstate casino license since it is redeveloping a building that already exists.

”Because we are proposing a renovation, once the license is issued, we can open quicker than other facilities, which require entirely new construction, changes in law, and will be disruptive to their local communities,” said Marc Holliday, SL Green’s CEO.

Another Las Vegas-based gaming giant, Wynn Resorts, recently announced it is partnering with Related Companies, a New York real estate firm, to seek a license for a resort in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. A Wynnbet New York online sportsbook is also available as we speak. 

Others expected to contend for a downstate license include the Malaysia-based Genting Group, Las Vegas’ MGM Resorts, and Bally’s Corp. of Rhode Island.

New York City Casino Long Way From Reality

On its website, the New York State Gaming Commission notes that the downstate licenses won’t be issued until 2023 “at the earliest.”

After a review process expected to last for months, the three-person New York Gaming Facility Location Board will make licensing recommendations to the Gaming Commission. Based on these recommendations, the commission will make the final licensing decisions.

Members of the Facility Location Board are Quenia A. Abreu, president and CEO of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce; Vicki L. Been, a New York University School of Law professor; and Stuart Rabinowitz, an attorney and former Hofstra University president.

As states, we do not expected New York online casinos to go live before later in 2023, at the earliest.

Manhattan Viewed As a Prime Location

Last spring, the New York Legislature approved the licensing of three downstate commercial casinos under the state’s $220 billion budget plan. The three casinos could be located in the lower Hudson Valley, on Long Island or in New York City’s five boroughs, including Manhattan.

Manhattan is seen as a prime location because of its appeal to tourists and the large number of people living in the region. New York City is the nation’s most populated city, with about 8.5 million residents.

Currently, the closest full commercial casino to New York City is Resorts World Catskills, about 100 miles north of the city.

Across the state, in-person New York sports betting is legal inside casinos and on mobile apps.

Resorts World, Empire City Possible Frontrunners

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, has told he envisions two current downstate properties to be in the running to receive licenses. These properties are Genting’s Resorts World near the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and MGM Resorts’ Empire City, a harness raceway in Yonkers north of the Bronx.

Under current law, these two resorts are allowed to offer slot-style video lottery terminal games but not casino games such as craps, blackjack or roulette. WIth a full casino license, Resorts World and Empire City could add these other games.

Even without table games, Resorts World New York City last year had “the most gambling revenue of any casino property outside Nevada,” the New York Times reported. If these two existing properties are licensed to operate full-scale casinos, one more license would remain, possibly for a site in Manhattan.

New York Voters Approved Casino Licenses

In 2013, voters approved seven commercial casino licenses statewide, with four going to upstate resorts. These four casinos have since opened their doors to the public. The three downstate licenses currently under review will round out the seven that voters agreed upon. In addition to these resorts, several tribal casinos are in operation in the state.


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Larry Henry

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