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NY State Gaming Commission Delays Downstate Casino Licenses

Learn about the latest update from the New York State Gaming Commission regarding the issuance of commercial casino licenses in the southern part of the state. Delays in the process may impact the timeline for establishing brick-and-mortar casinos, potentially affecting the broader expansion of gaming in New York.
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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Mar 26, 2024

NY State Gaming Commission Delays Downstate Casino Licenses

In a recent update from the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), it appears that the eagerly anticipated licensing for commercial brick-and-mortar casinos in the southern region of New York may face significant delays. The latest announcement, made during a meeting, indicates that decisions regarding licenses for up to three casinos in the area might not materialize until late 2025, significantly pushing back initial expectations.

Reported by Courtney Gross of Spectrum News NY 1, the members of the NYSGC conveyed on Monday that the process of awarding licenses for Class III gaming facilities in the downstate area would likely extend well into 2025. Despite expressing a desire for a swifter process, commission members emphasized the complexities involved, including environmental assessments and evaluations of bids by entities such as the Gaming Facility Location Board.

 

Key Points

  1. Timeline Delay: The New York State Gaming Commission has announced a potential delay in the issuance of licenses for commercial brick-and-mortar casinos in the southern region of the state, pushing the timeline for operations to late 2025.
  2. Complexities and Processes: The delay is attributed to various complexities involved in the licensing process, including environmental assessments and evaluations of bids by regulatory bodies such as the Gaming Facility Location Board.
  3. Implications: The delay in downstate casino licensing could have significant ramifications, potentially affecting efforts to expedite the process and delaying the broader expansion of gaming in New York, including the legalization of online casinos.

 

The NYSGC is tasked with assessing the suitability of applicants for casino licenses in accordance with state regulations, while the Gaming Facility Location Board holds authority over the specific locations where licensees can establish their operations.

During discussions, commissioners highlighted the importance of allowing adequate time to attract a robust pool of applicants. Although a 2023 law set a minimum threshold of $500 million for the cost of a license, the absence of a maximum ceiling means that a higher number of applicants could result in increased bids for the licenses.

However, this suggested timeline for licensing poses potential setbacks, particularly concerning efforts to expedite the process and avert delays in the broader expansion of gaming in New York, which some legislators are advocating for.

From a retrospective standpoint, the timeline adjustment raises questions about the efficacy of the 2023 legislative change that prematurely ended a moratorium on casino licensing. Originally, a 2013 law had prohibited the issuance of such licenses until 2025. The decision to lift the moratorium seemingly aimed to accelerate the process, but the current timeline suggests that licenses might have been issued in late 2025 regardless, rendering the legislative adjustment somewhat moot.

Yet, speculation remains about the hypothetical scenario wherein the moratorium remained in effect. Would the licensing process have been further delayed until late 2027? From this perspective, the decision to lift the moratorium might have still served its intended purpose.

 

Commission members stressed that they wish the process could unfold sooner. However, they feel that is a realistic timeline with all the moving parts of the situation.

 

The Conclusions

Moreover, the delay in downstate casino licensing could have ripple effects on the legalization of online casinos in New York. Legislators like New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo view the issue as a non-starter while deliberations on physical casinos in the downstate region are ongoing. Consequently, the legalization of online casinos might not materialize until at least 2026, pending further developments.

In light of these circumstances, stakeholders across various sectors are left with little recourse but to monitor the situation as it unfolds, underscoring the inherent uncertainties surrounding the timeline and implications of downstate casino licensing in New York.

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