New York City could have a full-fledged Las Vegas-style casino up and running before the end of this year.
That’s the primary takeaway from the fast-tracking of the three downstate casino licenses by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was able to work with legislators to get the proposal included in the budget for this fiscal year.
Now, the major gambling companies begin preparing their bids for licenses that, according to the budget item, will cost a minimum of $500 million, but could unlock billions in profits for the operators.
Massive market is up for grabs
CBRE Equity Research recently estimated that the total addressable market for the New York City area is $4.88 billion of gross gaming revenue for the three casinos.
According to the firm, its estimate is based on analysis of comparable urban gaming markets and the population of nearly 19 million in the region, though it cautions that the final scale of the market will be impacted by tax rates, locations, and costs.
CBRE also expects MGM Resorts to be “a likely winner” of one of the three licenses, which makes perfect sense given the company’s Empire City property at Yonkers racetrack, which is currently set up for video gambling but could quickly convert to table games. State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow told NY Online Gambling such a process might take as little as two weeks. CBRE estimates that the Empire City casino could generate more than $1.2 billion of annual gaming revenue.
Yonkers and Queens among likely sites
Assuming the analysis is correct and Yonkers becomes a full-scale casino, it figures to strike a major blow to the flow of customers at Resorts World’s Catskills property, which is 84 miles from Yonkers. That pressure, in turn, figures to push Resorts World to press hard to secure one of the three licenses for its racino at Aqueduct.
Luckily for Resorts World, most experts expect it to have a huge leg up on the competition since it has the only casino-hotel in the city and, according to the company, already hosts 10 million guests a year between its Aqueduct video-gambling casino and its Hyatt Regency JFK hotel.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the state and local stakeholders on this important and timely leap forward,” Resorts World CEO Robert DeSalvio said in a statement. “We are ready, willing, and able to immediately double our workforce by adding more than 1,000 new union jobs and help the true potential of resort-style gaming, entertainment, and hospitality be realized right here in the heart of Queens.”
What about Manhattan?
The third license is a bit of an X-factor, which should make for some interesting bidding, especially if the possibility of locating a casino in Manhattan becomes a reality. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has said he would like two of the casinos to be within the five boroughs of the city. Other operators that responded to a request for information last year by the New York State Gaming Commission include Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corp., Rush Street Interactive, and Hard Rock International.
New York currently has 11 upstate casinos, four of which are run by commercial gaming operators and seven belonging to Native American tribes.
The gaming commission will oversee the bidding process, though a six-member community advisory committee, which Hochul and Adams both have seats on, will have a say in the proposed locations.
“Following the budget, the legislature must monitor the timely, fair, and transparent bidding process for the licenses, and ensure that the siting process is being credibly implemented,” Sen. Joe Addabbo, the chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee, said in a statement.
Once again, New York is set to become the focus of a major bidding war among gambling operators, with the state hoping to reap tens of millions in taxes.