New York Casino Permit Award Process Could Drift Into 2025

Posted on: January 29, 2024, 03:26h. 

Last updated on: January 29, 2024, 03:37h.

Hopes that New York regulators could announce the winners of three downstate casino licenses this year might already be dashed despite the fact that 2024 is just a month old.

Times Square Casino
Tourists in New York’s Times Square, which is a proposed site for a casino. It could be 2025 before New York awards three downstate casino licenses. (Image: Bloomberg)

By some accounts, the widely anticipated announcement arriving in the first quarter of 2025 amounts to an ambitious timeline. Fueling speculation that it could be a while before the victors in the New York casino competition are revealed is the fact that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (NY-D) budget doesn’t include revenue from the licensing fees the winning bidders would pay to the state.

That budget runs through March 31, 2025. The exclusion of that revenue in the recently proposed budget is bad news for New York because it was expected that the three winners would pay at least $500 million apiece, if not $1 billion each, for the permits.

The specter of the New York casino permit award process dragging into 2025 jibes with prior commentary from some industry observers, some of whom have dubbed the competition a “circus.”

Next Step in New York Casino Process

As reported by Newsday, “the next big milestone” in the New York casino bidding process is when the Gaming Facility Location Board, which is controlled by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), reveals a second round of questions for interested bidders.

The answers to the first round of queries were released last August and the second batch of questions were submitted last October, but it’s not clear when the latest answers will be released. That’s pivotal because those updates could hold important clues for gaming companies and determine whether or not they move forward in New York.

After the Gaming Facility Location Board posts those answers, a 30-day window would open in which casino operators could submit bids to the state. There’s chatter that bidding submissions could start before the end of the current quarter, but that appears to be no more than hopeful speculation.

Add it all up and with each passing day, it becomes less likely New York will award the three downstate casino permits before the end of this year.

Other Controversies Need to Be Resolved

Beyond New York’s slow-moving regulatory process, some operator-specific issues need to be resolved as well. For example, Bally’s (the Bronx) and Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock International (Queens) need policymakers to remove parkland designations from their desired sites.

On Long Island, Las Vegas Sands and Nassau County are tussling with Hofstra University, which alleges the county violated New York open meeting laws in its transfer of the Nassau Coliseum lease to the gaming company.

Should the casino permit award process gain momentum, and if those operators cannot resolve those respective issues, it’s possible they could be caught flatfooted and miss out on the chance to vie for a casino license in the largest US metropolitan area.

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