New York Pitches Zoning Law Changes to Accommodate Casinos

Posted on: November 28, 2023, 01:59h. 

Last updated on: November 29, 2023, 09:32h.

Mayor Eric Adams (D-NY) is hoping to alter some New York City zoning laws in an effort to be more accommodating to proposed casino hotels.

Eric Adams Ulrich illegal gambling New York City
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks at an NYC Department of Buildings Construction Safety Week event on Friday, May 6, 2022. He’s proposing changes to city zoning laws to accommodate casinos. (Image:

Under the changes proposed by the Adams Administration, gaming venues could be located in the city’s manufacturing districts and within nearly all commercial areas, with no barriers as to their size.

The City is proposing a citywide zoning text amendment to allow gaming facilities as a permitted use in certain commercial districts (Section 32-10) and manufacturing districts (Section 42-10) in the Zoning Resolution. This modification would allow a gaming facility licensed by the State and developed through a new State defined siting process to be developed without regard to any potential conflict with the Zoning Resolution,” according to a recent filing with the New York City Department of City Planning.

That proposal faces at least 10 more steps before it can go into effect. But it reaffirms Adams’ commitment to bringing casinos to the largest U.S. city.

Adams’ Plan Could Streamline Bidding

While New York’s plan to add as many as three downstate casino hotels has drawn the biggest names in the gaming industry, the process has been widely criticized as inefficient, slow-moving, and potentially corrupt. It’s expected that the winning bidders could be announced next year. But there’s no hard date on that, and some analysts believe the process could drag into 2025.

Adams’ attempts to alter zoning laws could streamline the process. Some of the competing bidders have already encountered bureaucratic red tape, owing to the designation of land on which they’d like to build casinos, assuming they’re selected as winning bidders. At least one — Las Vegas Sands — is eschewing the five boroughs and opting to focus on Nassau County.

It’s still widely expected that MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World New York in Queens will be two of the three winning bidders. That’s owing to established footprints in New York. But there’s also been recent speculation to the contrary.

In the third quarter, Resorts World New York was the highest-grossing gaming venue in the U.S. outside of Nevada, while Empire City ranked eighth by that metric, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Adams’ Plan Could Help, Other Issues Linger

Adams’ efforts to bring needed efficiencies to the casino bidding process are notable, and show that the mayor is aware that New York’s tax base is under duress as residents flee the high-crime, high-tax city.

Still, there are other hurdles gaming companies need to clear in their quests to procure one of the downstate permits. Those include winning two-thirds approval from community advisory committees in the areas in which they seek to operate.

That could be tough to accomplish, as highlighted by opposition in Coney Island, as well as opponents to Sands’ efforts in Nassau County and Caesars Entertainment’s Times Square casino plan.