High stakes involved in bid for three New York area casinos, but it will take some time

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The New York area will undoubtedly have three new casinos, but don’t bet on all three opening soon.

Although the Non-Indian Commercial Casinos Act technically allows these downstate gambling facilities to open next year, the approval process is so complex and torturous that former Governor David Paterson l compared to nuclear science. “You could learn everything there is to know about nuclear physics before you learn to go through this process,” Paterson said earlier in the week.

Paterson now represents the Las Vegas Sands casino company in the competition that will take place in the coming months to obtain a franchise in the New York area.

He was among players and gaming industry experts at an annual racing and gaming conference sponsored by Spectrum Gaming Group, a national gaming industry consultant. The event was held at Saratoga Hilton.

When gambling in casinos was legalized in 2014, it was decided to open four of these facilities in upstate New York first, with three openings in downstate New York. 2023.

The idea was to give casinos in less populated upstate communities time to build up a clientele lest downstate facilities, benefiting from proximity to the state’s population centers, don’t grab all the business.

The four upstate casinos, Tioga Downs in the southern part; del Lago between Syracuse and Rochester; The World Catskills resorts near Monticello and Rivers in Schenectady were operational soon after the facilities were legalized.

Now, permits for those in the lower state can be issued as early as 2023.

One company that could be in the mix is ​​Rush Street Gaming, which operates Schenectady’s Rivers Casino. They were among more than half a dozen companies at the end of 2021 that responded to a “request for information” about the bidding process, issued by the state Gaming Commission, who regulates and should approve new casinos.

But the competition for one of those three licenses in the downstate is slower and more complex than in the upstate.

Lower-state approval will require a much “robust” local input component than the upper-state process, noted Pat Brown, a retired casino lobbyist who moderated a panel discussion on these new licenses. .

Candidates from one of New York’s five boroughs, for example, must get a two-thirds vote
advisory committees to be appointed.

Each Borough Committee should include representatives of the Mayor, Borough President, City Council, and Governor as well as their local Senate and Assembly members.

Given the Byzantine nature of New York City politics, several of the panelists said it would be difficult to get a vote on these committees. Also, the committees have not yet been named.

“That’s where the downturn could be,” said Westchester Democratic Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who chairs the assembly’s racing and betting committee.

Several speakers agreed that two companies could already have a head start on the competition for licenses.

These would be MGM Resorts and Genting, the Malaysia-based casino developer.

MGM already operates the Empire City racino in Yonkers, Westchester County, while Genting has a racino in Queens.

Racinos are racetracks hitched with a video lottery terminal or VLT games that allow people to play the state lottery with slot machines.

With facilities already established, Genting and MGM could quickly turn their racinos into full-service casinos. This would involve replacing VLT terminals with traditional slot machines and installing table games such as poker rooms and roulette.

Genting and MGM are also large enough to pay the high entry fees that will be required to compete for a state license. Competitors will likely have to pay at least $500 million in application fees.

“That’s the bet,” Brown said.

“We are going to have a battle of titans here in New York,” he added.

[email protected] 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

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