New York Gaming Facility Location Board Provides Update on Downstate Casinos

The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board on Thursday provided an updated timeline for the issuing of the three downstate casino concessions.

New York casino license
New York City’s Manhattan is seen looking south at the Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan. The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board this week provided a new timeline for the issuing of the three downstate casino licenses. (Image: Shutterstock)

New York residents in 2013 voted in favor of amending the state constitution to permit Las Vegas-style commercial casinos. The vote authorized four upstate and three downstate casinos, but the downstate concessions were delayed 10 years to allow the upstate properties to establish their customer bases.

The moratorium on the downstate licenses is over and a slew of interested developers have prepped multibillion-dollar bids. Many state lawmakers have urged the State Gaming Facility Location Board and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to expedite the process, as the licenses were originally intended to be awarded this year but the state agency in March conceded the process would likely drag into late 2025.

The board provided updated guidance on when the coveted downstate licenses will be granted. For those wishing to get the resorts up and running as soon as possible, the statement won’t be welcomed.

Downstate Details 

The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board says applications for the downstate licenses are due by June 27, 2025. Each qualified bid will be designated a six-person Community Advisory Committee (CAC) consisting of Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), the borough president, and applicable state senator, assemblyperson, and city councilor.

Each casino pitch must secure the support of their CAC by Sept. 30, 2025. The Gaming Facility Location Board says it will then take October and November to review the submitted bids with CAC backing and render its winners by Dec. 1, 2025.

Winning casino bids must submit their $500 million license fees to the state by Dec. 31, 2025.

This timeline encompasses all legal requirements that potential bidders must meet before we may evaluate applications,” said Board Chair Vicki Been. “This roadmap also gives communities ample opportunity to have their voices heard, establishes a level playing field among multiple competitors, and affords serious applicants the opportunity to participate in a lucrative and transformational process.”

Along with obtaining a CAC endorsement, each casino applicant, the Gaming Facility Location Board said, must complete all entitlement processes such as acquiring land-use permits and zoning signoffs. The Board says the pushback of applications to the June 27, 2025, deadline levels the playing field for several bids that continue to labor to secure local approvals for their gaming resort projects.

“At least four publicly known potential applicants are not currently able to avail themselves of the zoning change due to specific requirements not covered by the amendment, including mapping changes, grading, or revocable consent to construct over streets. The New York City Department of City Planning has advised the Board that the four impacted entities expect to emerge from the zoning (ULURP) process by the end of June 2025,” the Board explained.

Environmental Review Tedious

The Board added that bids must also undergo a State Environmental Quality Review.

SEQR process is lengthy, with the purpose to identify any potential adverse environmental effects of proposed actions, assesses their significance, and propose measures to eliminate or mitigate significant impacts,” the Board release explained. “Applicants are expected to be substantially complete with the environmental reviews by the end of June 2025.”

MGM Resorts and Genting are the front-runners for two of the licenses that would allow their respective video lottery racinos — Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World in Queens — to become full-scale casinos with Las Vegas-style slots, live dealer table games, and sportsbooks. Other companies that continue to develop downstate bids include Hard Rock International, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Bally’s, Mohegan, and Caesars Entertainment.

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