When Governor Hochul proposed the state budget in January, it included a plan that allows three new full gaming casinos in downstate New York. Currently, there are four casinos operating upstate with two limited facilities in and around New York City.
With the promise of tax revenues to fund education and jobs that will be created to operate it, the idea of a full casino in New York City has been a long-held dream. For decades, New York has watched as its residents traveled to Atlantic City and Connecticut to gamble, missing out on tax revenue. With the prospect of gaming licenses being issued, the scramble begins: who should get the licenses?
Many new operators are sure to make their pitches to develop a Casino within the five boroughs of New York City, but Resorts World New York City and MGM Empire City in Yonkers are both in a unique position to accelerate the timeline to market.
Located on Rockaway Boulevard in Queens, Resorts World already has a large footprint and the infrastructure in place — a casino facility with over 6,500 slots and electronic table games, a new luxurious hotel, an array of dining options and a horse racetrack. The facility has ample parking as well as proximity to JFK International Airport to drive accessibility for tourism and conventions.
Most importantly, Resorts World has a track record of running a successful operation and working closely with the community and elected officials.
“New York should be exploring any and all options that would bring people back to the City,” said Thomas Grech, president & CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve seen the good neighbor that Resorts World has been to the Chamber and its members. We know its commitment to hiring Queens residents and helping local entrepreneurs.”
A full gaming license would permit Resorts World to become a full-scale casino with table games and slot machines, thus avoiding protracted zoning and development battles — something NYC is famous for, such as the failed West Side Stadium that was planned to be the home for the New York Jets.
In addition, the Governor has communicated her desire to bring a full gaming license to New York City in a timely fashion to drive much needed revenue. Every New Yorker is keenly aware of how large scale projects can be thwarted or go years beyond initial opening dates. A facility that would need to be built from the ground-up will likely face considerable questions and scrutiny from the surrounding neighborhoods and those that don’t care for more development, increased congestion or a casino in their backyard.
“I trust Resorts World to be a responsible community partner because I have seen firsthand how they operate and how it benefits my constituents,” said City Councilmember Nantasha Williams. “Resorts World is already up and running and has built deep relationships in the community for years and can quickly and seamlessly pivot to a more comprehensive facility that serves tourists, workers and small businesses in our community.”
The gaming licenses are being introduced at an opportune time for a City that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic with casinos offering to accelerate the rebound. According to Governor Hochul’s office, in just the first 30 days mobile sports betting generated $70 million in tax revenue with nearly all being directed to education and youth sports. This revenue surpassed initial estimates and downstate gaming can follow in a similar manner.
With the experience, track record and ability to begin full-gaming in the quickest way possible, existing facilities — including Resorts World and MGM Empire City — should be at the forefront of any operator chosen to execute this critical initiative.