New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Has No Plans to Expand Casino Operations Downstate

Posted on: February 25, 2020, 10:07h. 

Last updated on: February 25, 2020, 10:37h.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) remains opposed to expanding gambling operations at the two downstate racinos – Resorts World New York City and Empire City Casino.

Andrew Cuomo New York casino
Andrew Cuomo is in no rush to allow full-scale casinos to operate in the New York City area. (Image: Kevin Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)

The two racinos, which are only permitted to offer video lottery terminals that resemble slot machines, as well as electronic table games, have offered hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental tax revenue in exchange for full-scale casino licenses. But despite budget shortfalls, the governor remains opposed to expanding gambling downstate.

These are complicated issues, and I am skeptical about quick, knee-jerk reactions to doing something like that, especially if it’s conditioned on money,” Cuomo said Monday.

Under the state’s 2013 gaming law, no new casinos licenses are to be issued before 2023. The statute was designed to provide the four upstate commercial full-scale casinos with a 10-year exclusivity on gambling to build their businesses.

Power Players Pushing

Allowing full-scale casinos to commence operations in the New York City area would be a goldmine for gaming operators. And the world’s largest companies are lobbying heavily for the state to lift its casino moratorium.

MGM Resorts, which owns Empire City after acquiring the racino from the Rooney family for $850 million last year, and Genting Group, parent company of Resorts World NYC, have pledged to send roughly $100 million to the four upstate casinos should they be permitted to include slot machines and dealer table games.

Las Vegas Sands is also lobbying for a full-scale license, targeting somewhere in the five boroughs for a casino resort. The three gaming bigwigs say the state could reap more than $500 million in year one after lifting the licensing ban.

“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,” MGM and Genting said.

The companies added, “It would allow New York an opportunity to capture tax dollars that are currently flowing out of state. MGM and Genting jointly support the authorization of downstate licensing that will activate this potential immediately.”

Cuomo Qualms

The governor did not assume any new tax revenue stemming from gaming in his latest fiscal budget. Potential online sports betting money was also left out. Currently, only the four upstate commercial casinos and tribal gaming venues can operate land-based sportsbooks.

There’s no gimmicks. There’s no new casino revenue,” Cuomo told lawmakers. “This is not the time to come up with creative, although irresponsible, revenue sources to solve a problem which doesn’t really exist.”

Cuomo was referencing the state’s current $6 billion deficit.

The New York Gaming Commission hired Spectrum Gaming Group last fall to conduct a thorough review of the future of the state’s gaming market. The first draft will include the benefits of authorizing mobile sports betting. But the initial review isn’t due until early April – which is after when the state budget is expected to be finalized.