New Points System Being Considered for Downstate NY Casinos

New York Casinos

A new provision is being considered by the New York Senate to use a points system to figure out which operators will be given preference to open a casino downstate.

For many months now, an effort has been ongoing in New York state to get the downstate casinos up and running. When a gambling expansion was approved many years ago in the state, the upstate venues were allowed to open first. Gaming venues located downstate could not offer full scale casino gaming until 2023 to give the other operators a chance to mature. Now, the funds from downstate are needed due to the affects from the coronavirus pandemic. So, a provision has been added to the Senate’s version of the budget bill to speed things along, especially for the Empire City Casino and Resorts World New York City.

What’s the Deal?

Earlier this week, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. revealed information about the changes that senators made in the spending bill. The changes were made after Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted a proposal calling for the state to start a request for information on proposed casinos.

The Senate felt that Cuomo’s proposal would not generate the needed revenues, so they removed it and added their own version. According to Addabbo Jr., there was a lost opportunity for billions of dollars in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

So, to change it up, the senators added language to the bill that creates a framework for competitiveness. It also set up a timeline that would get the ball rolling this year. Proposals would be submitted by July 1 and a decision on licensing must occur within 150 days of obtaining the proposals. A licensing fee would cost $500 million and must be paid within 30 days of approval.

Scoring Casino License Applications

Law requires the Gaming Commission to score applications for casino licensing based on three factors. A total of 70% of the score would be determined based on the economic activity proposal of the applicant. The local impact would account for 20% while the workforce enhancement covers the remaining 10%.

The Senate wants the economic activity section to go down to 60% and the 10% left over to go towards how the applicant can demonstrate the ability to start gaming operations more quickly than other applicants. This factor fares well for Empire City and Resorts World as they already offer video lottery and electronic table games inside their venues.

These two properties could easily add live table games and slots to their existing facilities. With this small change to the law, additional gaming facilities would be up and running in weeks or months rather than years due to construction.

With the Senate’s plan, the state would be able to receive more tax revenue. The plan requires downstate casinos to pay $750 per machine or table game they operate. The fee is currently not paid by racinos, so this would be brand-new revenue payments.

Of course, the racinos will want to branch out and offer larger spaces for gaming. They would have to propose new construction but could also add games within their existing facilities. New structures would bring construction jobs along with permanent employment positions within the facilities, which is also beneficial to the community.  The plan goes further than just new revenues, as it also creates job opportunity.

Right now, it looks like everyone is on the same page when it comes to getting the downstate marketing moving sooner rather than later. However, how we get there is up in the air. Will the senate version stand, or will the Governor try to push his proposal forward? We shall see in the coming weeks what becomes of legislation and how the state gets started with new gaming options. Will it be now or later?

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.