New York Gaming Commission takes next step toward Downstate casino licenses
The New York Gaming Commission unanimously approved the first three members of the Gaming Facility Location Board which will oversee the bidding process for the state's three remaining casino licenses for the downstate region.
The eventual five-member group is currently made up of New York Women's Chamber of Commerce CEO Quenia Abreu, New York University Law Professor Vicki Been and former Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz.
"With capital investment, direct and construction employment, and the driving of incremental tax revenues, these projects will offer the possibility of tangible change to their host locations," said state Gaming Commission Chair Brian O'Dwyer during Monday's meeting.
The commission did not mention when it will appoint the last two members.
The board is responsible for vetting all of the incoming casino license proposals and recommending which three should go before the commission for final approval.
In the end, each license will cost at least $500 million and the board has 90 days to begin formally soliciting proposals from prospective developers.
This is a critical step for Yonkers' Empire City Casino which is considered one of the "favorites" to get one of the licenses. The other is Resorts World New York City in Queens.
"It's a regional booster. It is in terms of the economics," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.
A spokesperson for Empire City Casino wrote in a statement, "we’re excited about the opportunity to respond to the anticipated.
Request for Applications (RFA) for the remaining commercial casino licenses and intend to submit a compelling application to secure one of those available licenses for Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts. With 97 acres and already boasting one of the largest gaming floors in the country, a commercial license will allow us to develop Empire City to its full potential, generating thousands of quality jobs and meaningful private economic investment for Westchester and the region. We are ready to roar!”
Still, Commission Chair Brian O'Dwyer reiterated every applicant has an equal chance of securing the coveted approval.
"There is no preconceived way...that anybody is going into this process as either the favorite or not the favorite," added Dwyer.
Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, in Queens, and Hudson Yards in Manhattan are also rumored as locations to be in the mix.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 that allowed the state to grant full gaming licenses for up to seven private casinos statewide. The first four were only allowed upstate and were built in the Finger Lakes, Catskills, Capital Region, and Southern Tier.
The process to dole out the last three licenses would have started next year but Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state legislature reached a deal to fast-track the process as part of the FY 2023 budget.
That agreement also requires a Community Advisory Board to review proposals to ensure they have local support. Those boards will be five (outside NYC) or six members (within NYC) and be made up of people appointed by the governor, county executive or mayor, local state legislators, and community lawmakers.
The advisory board will have to approve any proposals before they move to the location board which will then pass it to the Gaming Commission for the final say.
The location board will begin accepting Request for Applications (RFA) in early 2023.
"We have a little bit of work to do but we're excited because it's all going in the right direction," said Spano.