Former New York Governor David Paterson Lobbying on Behalf of Las Vegas Sands for New York City Casino

Posted on: July 15, 2019, 10:44h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2019, 10:44h.

Former New York Governor David Paterson (D) is leading a lobbying effort on behalf of Las Vegas Sands to expedite the licensing process for three New York City casinos.

David Patterson New York City casino
David Patterson is campaigning to bring commercial casinos to New York City. (Image: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty)

New York voters approved up to seven casinos in 2013 – four allocated for the upstate area, and three for downstate – but lawmakers placed a moratorium on the three New York City-area gaming venues to allow the upstate properties to open free of competition.

The moratorium isn’t set to expire until 2023. Patterson says the wait is unnecessary.

Is it going to happen in 2023 or 2020? Why not start three years earlier?” Patterson asked the Associated Press. “This is really a tremendous opportunity to create jobs in New York.”

All four of the upstate casinos have opened, but all four are failing to live up to their premarket gross gaming revenue (GGR) expectations.

Gaming Scandal

Patterson’s track record dealing with the gaming industry isn’t exactly flawless.

In January 2010, the then-governor awarded a contract to Aqueduct Race Track Entertainment Group (AEG) to own the Queens casino and its 4,500 video gaming terminals (VGTs) and electronic table games. Charges were made that Patterson picked AEG over better bids due to his relationship with celebrity Jay-Z – who at the time owned a six percent stake in AEG.

Paterson later recused himself from the bidding process.

The New York Legislature authorized VGTs at the state’s eight racetracks in 2001 after the state economy suffered as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While such gaming commenced soon after at upstate tracks, several scandals, alleged peddling, and then the governor’s actions delayed VGTs at the Aqueduct – which was considered the most profitable opportunity – for nearly a decade.

Genting Group, the Malaysian-based casino operator, ultimately won the Aqueduct casino license. The company paid a $380 million upfront fee, and opened Resorts World New York City in the fall of 2011. Genting is also the parent company to Resorts World Catskills – a $1 billion integrated casino resort in Kiamesha Lake.

New York State of Mind

Currently, the next closest racino to the New York City is Empire City in Yonkers. MGM Resorts paid $850 million to buy the property from the Rooney family earlier this year.

Like Sands, MGM and Genting are lobbying New York lawmakers to move faster on the New York City casino licenses.

The New York City gaming market is a tremendous opportunity to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of incremental tax revenue that could be used to support local schools and revitalize the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Additionally, it would allow New York an opportunity to capture tax dollars that are currently flowing out of state,” Genting and MGM said in a joint statement in March.

Albany Bureau news says the companies have offered hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees for the state if it’s willing to lift the moratorium before 2023.