Pretlow Says It’s Time for New York to Realize Casino Revenue Benefits

New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) believes it’s time for the state to put the pedal to the metal when it comes to realizing benefits from casino gaming in the New York City area.

New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon). He wants the state to expedite the approval of downstate casino licenses. (Image: Office of Assemblyman Gary Pretlow)

It’s been two years since New York voters were under the impression that the process for approving for three downstate casino permits would be expeditious, but it’s been anything but that and today, it appears as though it could be late 2025 or early 2026 before decisions are made on what companies will win those highly sought after licenses.

Hoping to avoid further costly delays, Pretlow and Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) last week introduced legislation that if signed into law, would mandate the award of those permits perhaps as soon as March 31, 2025. Pretlow sees it as an opportunity to help minority communities.

We must get this done because New Yorkers are counting on much more than blackjack or roulette tables,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Yonkers Times. “Black and Brown families are leaving the downstate region in droves because few career opportunities exist. School administrators barely scrape by on shoestring budgets. Commuters inch forward on long commutes marred by aging infrastructure.”

Lobbyists and gaming industry observers were optimistic that there would be movement on awarding the New York casino licenses at some point this year. But other experts cautioned it was likely a 2025 issue, citing bureaucratic delays, among other factors.

Time to ‘Start Flipping Cards’ on New York Casinos

As Pretlow pointed out in his op-ed, New York is facing a $9.5 billion budget shortfall, indicating the $500 million license fee per winning bidder, or $1.5 billion total, would go a long way toward covering that gap.

Some industry observers previously noted that due to the state’s budget woes, it’s possible the licensing fee could swell to $1 billion per permit and gaming companies would have no choice but to pay owing to the desirability of the New York market. Either way, it’s time for the state to tapping into the downstate casino revenue stream, according to Pretlow.

“But first we need to actually start flipping cards. New York State committed to speeding up the process as part of the budget two years ago. The intent was for bidding to start in 2023, but the goal posts continue to move,” added the lawmaker. “The Gaming Commission’s announcement this spring to push back license awards until the end of 2025. That means the tens of thousands of construction and permanent jobs promised by every bidder will not materialize for another two years — at best.”

It’s not just licensing fees. New York City-area casinos could, over time, generate billions in income and sales taxes, among other levies, for the state.

Time Is of the Essence

While the bills proposed by Addabbo and Pretlow could serve the aim of expediting the New York casino process, time is of the essence because there are seven working days left in the state’s 2024 legislative session.

It’s probable that if the state assembly and senate advance the bills, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will sign the legislation into law. Should that happen, that would set the stage for clarity on the New York casino situation as soon as the first quarter of 2025.

If that plays out, gaming companies and real estate partners would have up to two years to address environmental and property issues.

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