New York Governor Kathy Hochul Releases Budget Plan Calling for Up to 3 New Casino Licenses in 2022

This past Tuesday, the 2023 fiscal year budget plan was released by New York Governor Kathy Hochul. It revealed that the Empire State has a plan to award up to three outstanding casino licenses in 2022, this year. The Budget Director, Robert Mujica, stated to reporters that licenses could be awarded anywhere in New York state, however the briefing book from Hochul narrowed things down.

The briefing book as well as indications from others revealed the expectation is for those licenses to go to downstate proposals that are in or around New York City. Way back in 2013, voters in New York approved commercial casino gaming across the state. Back then, the first four casino gaming licenses were given to sites upstate.

The plan from back then was for the rest of the licenses to be given out seven years later with the assumption that these licenses would go to sites downstate. This was to allow the upstate venues the chance to fully establish themselves before even more casinos opened.

In 2020, the year that was set to happen, a global emergency forced both state officials and lawmakers to reconsider this decision. And, around two years later, according to Robet Mujica, the hospitality industry in New York is still suffering from those effects. The downstate region has been especially affected, according to Mujica.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, a Queens Democrat, chairs the New York Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering. He was among those who were happiest to hear the recent news. Last year, he tried to get casino licenses expedited in the state’s budget. The budget for last year did call for a request for information to be issued with regards to the licenses, which, late last year, did generate 30 responses.

After Governor Hochul’s address, State Senator Addabbo released a statement in which he stated his belief that the state could receive as much as $500 million for each available license. His belief is that the expedition of these three full casino licenses for the downstate region could potentially generate $1.5 billion in revenue for New York, which would allow for more educational funding and the ability to improve problem gambling programs.

As of this writing, no official timetable has been given for when the state would release a solicitation for these available licenses. New York state is required to pass the budget by April first, which is the state of the fiscal year. But, last year, due to the global emergency and some lingering discussions surrounding issues, this process was held up by almost a week.

The budget from last year included language that legalized mobile sports betting statewide. And, it also called upon the New York State Gaming Commission to release the solicitation for those licenses in July as well as to accept bids for them a month later.

Back in November 2021, the New York State Gaming Commission announced the approval of two of the six proposals that were received. There were nine sportsbook operators in total that were involved in those bids. Five of those sportsbook operators launched mobile sports betting apps in the state this very month.

There are currently three casinos in downstate New York. These are the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, Jake’s 58 in Islandia, and Resorts World Casino New York at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. But, it is important to note that none of these venues offer live table games, instead only operating video lottery terminals and not slot machines in the state of Las Vegas.

A full-fledged casino license for any of these casinos would most likely give the state the ability to benefit from expanded casino gaming much faster than if a new casino project were chosen. State Senator Addabbo as well as a Mount Vernon Democrat who chairs the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, have given their support to a plan that would allow Resorts World and Empire City to receive two of the three available licenses.

However, there are still concerns that introducing casino resorts in downstate New York would harm the business for upstate facilities. Upstate New York currently has four full-fledged commercial casinos in addition to six VLT facilities and five Class III tribal casinos. 

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.