The likelihood that New York State will act to grant three casino licenses in the New York City region by the end of this week is more than evens, according to the oddsmakers.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is attempting to obtain a measure in the state budget that will expedite the issuance of licenses to marijuana businesses. Some legislators fantasize about a game with no limits or nearly — and almost certainly — a bonanza in money for the state.
And casino businesses aren’t the only ones drooling at the prospect of a monopoly. The same is true for real estate developers, who are expecting a large reward during the terrible years of the epidemic.
Mayor Eric Adams wants to be a part of the discussion. According to his spokesperson, he is keen for New York City to get two of the three licenses and does not want the third to go to another location, such as Long Island.
At Robert Goldstein’s pied-à-terre on the Upper East Side, Frank Carone, Adams’ chief of staff, recently met with Goldstein, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, to discuss the company’s future.
Where is the Most Smoke?
As things stand right now, the activity is centered in Albany, where the big rollers are seven gaming corporations that are spending more than $300,000 per month on a lobbying campaign.
They have been working closely with the powerful union representing hotel employees, which rebranded itself the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council last year and whose president has said that obtaining casino licenses is the union’s top objective in the state of New York.
In the union’s opinion, additional casinos in and around New York City would result in thousands of hotel employees being displaced as a result of the pandemic’s devastation of the tourist industry.
As a result of the tight ties that exist between the casino corporations and the union, the union has shared lobbyists with the gambling industry in a number of instances. Peter Ward, a past president of the union, advocates on behalf of Genting, the union’s main employer, as well as Bally’s Casino and Hotel. He is a union lobbyist who has been registered with the government.
As part of its public relations strategy, Resorts World has invested in New Yorkers for Responsible Gaming, which highlights the benefits of casinos for hotel employees and their families. It is overseen by Neal Kwatra, a political strategist who also works with the union on a variety of projects.
According to campaign disclosure records, the union has put a lot of money on the line, funneling at least $880,000 in campaign donations to Democratic candidates in Albany since 2020.
When Could the Licenses be Given?
It was described in a constitutional amendment that voters adopted in 2013, and it called for the creation of seven licenses, with the first four going to racetracks in upstate New York. The three downstate licenses might not be awarded until 2023, according to current estimates.
“It is probably the most popular scenario,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., a Democrat and chairman of the committee that oversees casinos, said in a statement that awarding two licenses to MGM and Genting “is probably the most popular scenario, with nothing being taken for granted, because it should be an open process.” The Resorts World Casino, owned by Genting, is located near his neighborhood.
There has been a frenzy of lobbying for what is believed to be the third unclaimed license, with proposals ranging from a casino next to the Water Club on the East River to “a fancy Monaco-like casino on the top floor of Saks.” State Senator Liz Krueger described the proposal as “a fancy Monaco-like casino on the top floor of Saks.” Saks refused to comment on the matter via a representative.
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