Senator Wants Big Apple Casinos Licensed This Year

Date IconLast Updated: Jan 19th, 2023
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Senator Wants Big Apple Casinos Licensed This Year
© USA Today

A New York lawmaker is pushing for full casinos to be licensed in the New York City area this year.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, told he doesn’t want the licensing process for three Las Vegas-style casinos in the metropolitan area to “linger.” Addabbo is chairman of the state Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.

Any delay in licensing New York City-area casinos will cost the state needed tax revenue and postpone job creation, he said.

“I want this to hit in 2023,” Addabbo said.

iGaming Bill Expected This Year

The senator also told he intends to introduce a bill this year to legalize New York online casinos. These iGaming sites would allow New Yorkers to use their cellphones and computers to play real-money casino games such as craps, roulette and poker.

Addabbo said he is waiting to see if Gov. Kathy Hochul includes potential iGaming revenue in the budget before assessing its chances at the legislative session this year in Albany.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legislative session began Jan. 4 and is scheduled to end June 16.

Though an effort to legalize iGaming was unsuccessful last year, Addabbo previously told that online gaming is inevitable in New York.

Of the half-dozen states where iGaming is legal, three share a border with New York. These are New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

In Connecticut, about 500 online casino games are available, according to Kaitlyn Krasselt, communications director for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

The iGaming options in Connecticut include traditional casino games such as craps, blackjack, online slots and poker, she said.

Last year, Addabbo told he expects iGaming revenue to exceed the money New York takes in from sports betting, as it does in other states. 

“iGaming is where the real money is,” Addabbo said. 

Times Square, Long Island Targeted for Casinos

Addabbo said iGaming licenses could be tethered to the land-based casinos that win approval to operate in or around New York City.

At the state level, a three-member Gaming Facility Location Board is overseeing the licensing for downstate sites. The “downstate” area includes New York City, Long Island and Westchester County. 

The board will submit its recommendations to the New York State Gaming Commission for final approval. Gaming regulators have said the final sign-off could occur in 2023 “at the earliest,” according to the New York Times.

Several major gaming companies, including Nevada-based Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Entertainment, are vying for approval to build commercial casinos at sites from Manhattan’s Times Square to Long Island and elsewhere.

Finding Jobs a Top Priority

Currently, gaming properties in the New York City area can offer slot-style video lottery terminal games but not casino table games such as craps and blackjack. The three new license holders would be allowed to offer table games.

In the metropolitan area, two resorts that offer slots are under consideration for a license to operate full casinos. One is Resorts World New York at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. The other is MGM Resorts’ Empire City, a harness raceway in Yonkers north of the Bronx.

Addabbo said he would like for the Resorts World property to receive one of the three licenses, in part because it is already up and running and could provide additional jobs more quickly.

“My job is to find jobs,” he said.

At one time, Resorts World was in Addabbo’s Senate district, but under new boundaries, the hotel-casino is just outside his current district.

Still, Addobbo said many of the hotel-casino’s employees live in the neighborhoods he now represents.

People throughout the area are grateful for the jobs Resorts World provides and for the company’s charitable contributions, he said. The Malaysia-based Genting Group owns Resorts World.

“They are appreciated in this community,” Addabbo said.  

Seven Commercial Casinos Allowed Statewide

In 2013, New York voters approved seven commercial casino licenses statewide. 

Four state-regulated casinos have since opened and are operating in upstate New York. Last April, public officials in Albany authorized the final three to be approved at downstate sites. 

In addition to these state-regulated resorts, tribal casinos operate in New York.

Right now, the closest full commercial casino to New York City is the Resorts World Catskills Casino, about 90 miles north of Manhattan.