New York approves plans for three downstate casinos

| By Richard Mulligan
New York state lawmakers have agreed to plans to allow three casinos in the downstate region that includes New York City.

State lawmakers have given the go-ahead to fast-track the issuance of the three Las Vegas-style commercial gaming licences, which will start a bidding process from gaming companies that wish to launch such casinos in the region. The plan, which sets the fees at a minimum $500m (£384m/€459m), were included in the state budget signed off at the end of last week and comes a decade after authorisation was given for seven commercial casinos, of which four were located upstate.

The budget deal includes protections to the racing support payments that flow to all thoroughbred and standardbred racetracks in the state, as well as their respective purse accounts and breeding and development funds for both breeds. It also ensures payments continue for New York Racing Association’s capital expenditures and operations.

Joseph Addabbo Jr, who serves as the chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said the casino projects will generate additional revenue for the state and create thousands of construction and post-construction jobs.

Addabbo said: “While this is a nice step forward for New York State, this does not mean our work is done. In fact, our work is just beginning.

“Following the budget, the legislature must monitor the timely, fair and transparent bidding process for the licences, and ensure that the siting process is being credibly implemented.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues, the Gaming Commission and the Hochul Administration on the downstate licence issue.”

The downstate region, which spans New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley, has an estimated population of 13 million.

Technically, the future casino facilities can be located in New York City, Long Island, and three suburban counties to the north of the city. It has been suggested that two of the casinos could be situated in Queens and Yonkers, with a third linked to Manhattan, New York City’s economic and cultural centre. Public hearings on the proposals must be held and a local panel must approve a casino siting plan before it is sent to a state body for consideration.

Local zoning laws would apply and there would be a minimum tax rate of 25% on slot machines and 10% on table games. It would set at $750 per slot machine the annual payments intended to support gaming addiction education and treatment programmes.

Lawmakers have already issued the guidelines for licence bidders through Senate Bill 8009. This determines that candidates must provide maximum capital investment exclusive of land acquisition and infrastructure improvements while also maximising revenue and providing as many as possible stable jobs at the property.

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