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State budget opens the door to casinos in NYC

Casinos in NYC may only be a few years away.
Written by
Will Gleason

After recently legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in New York, the state may be on the threshold of making another substantial addition to what’s legally allowed in NYC: Casinos.

Currently, a decision allowing casinos in the city is planned to be made in 2023. (That was a date set as part of a referendum passed in 2013 allowing for four casinos upstate.) Now, however, the legislature may rewrite the rules to make a decision sooner.

While the governor’s executive budget proposal requests more information on what casino licenses in the city may look like, one of the current State Senate budge bills goes as far as issuing a request for applications for casino licenses by July 1 with a decision on approval to be made in 150 days. The proposal also requires City Council approval of the casino locations. (Caveat: The Senate plan still needs to be reconciled with the Assembly budget bill which could remove the portion on casinos.)

There are three downstate casino licenses up for grabs in 2021 at $500 million each, meaning three casinos could possibly be coming to the city. (The “downstate region” is defined as the city, the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island.) Still, Governor Cuomo stressed that the decision was ultimately up to the Gaming Commission.

"The law does not authorize any new casinos," Governor Cuomo clarified on Wednesday. "I am opposed to any casino authorization plan that is subject to politics. We have a Gaming Commission that makes the decision on the merits."

The new development in Albany follows a proposal from mayoral candidate Andrew Yang unveiled earlier this year to build a casino on Governors Island. That location looks very unlikely, however, due to previous bans on casinos on the island and current development already underway.

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