Manhattan lawmakers have disrupted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to fast track a Las Vegas-style casino in New York City, according to the latest report.
The governor intends to push the process up by two years – to 2021 from 2023 – in a move that would make three big casinos – Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corp., and Las Vegas Sands – to vie for a rare casino license in New York City-area as soon as this year.
But those casino operators’ hopes – which were kindled by Cuomo – have been extinguished by the local lawmakers who believe it would compromise the quality of the area.
What is the Objection?
Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried said he “adamantly oppose any casino in Manhattan.”
While talking to the New York Post, the lawmaker said he believed any such project would be seriously detrimental to the residential as well as the commercial quality of the City.
State lawmakers had been working for months to address Manhattan’s objections. They also crafted a bill to allow the City officials to decide for themselves on any casino license proposals that came their way.
But the Democratic governor reportedly did not like the state lawmakers’ idea of devolving such powers to the most densely populated boroughs of New York City. The measure could not pass without Cuomo’s approval.
Why Did Cuomo Oppose it?
Gov. Cuomo was against the idea of allowing Manhattan lawmakers to make a key decision about a casino project for the Big Apple. According to a source, that got really close. It fell apart in the early hours of the April 6 budget deal.
Cuomo – who won a third term as governor of New York in 2018 – believed that delegating powers to Manhattan would set undesirable precedence where a county can supersede state laws. He’s against the idea of home rule.
Bill Can Be Revived, Though
Freeman Klopott, a spokeswoman for the New York State division of the budget, noted the measure could have its second life again this year. She said, with the inflow of federal funding, there was less of an imperative to change the existing condition. The state officials are continuing to work with the legislature to see if there is a path forward this year, Klopott said.
But Sen. Joe Addabbo told the media “there’s nothing really going on.” The chair of the Racing and Wagering Committee said there’s mere discussion at this point.
Casino execs say they don’t expect a deal this year.
One casino source said the matter will return to the legislative agenda not until Jan. 2022.
How Have We Reached Here?
The latest legislative push came in May after the budget was passed, but eventually failed due to inherent political differences.
The move to bring Las Vegas-style casinos to the Big Apple began in 2013 with a constitutional amendment authorizing seven gambling casinos in New York. The four upstate establishments obtained license first. A moratorium was placed on the downstate casinos until 2023.
The renewed efforts to precipitate the downstate casino licenses were viewed as economically viable for the state suffering from the pandemic.
The Empire State expects to create new jobs and raise nearly $1.5 billion in license fees from the measure.
Two of the three downstate licenses are almost decided, as they will go to the Resorts World Aqueduct racino and the MGM Resorts. Both properties are already running slot machines in the area.
The third license would be hotly contested between Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corp., and Las Vegas Sands.