Rob Goldstein, the newly named chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., didn’t exactly let the cat out of the bag during a quarterly report call with analysts on Wednesday. But he did provide some insight into the company’s thoughts about a possible New York City casino.
Expanded gaming in the Big Apple has been a big topic in recent months, as the city and New York state seek to rebuild after COVID-19 decimated the metropolis nearly a year ago.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) believes mobile sports betting can generate hundreds of millions for the state’s coffers, and while he’s still cool to the idea of issuing three downstate casino resort licenses before 2023, that date is drawing nearer. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, now running for New York City mayor, has floated the idea of putting a casino on Governors Island.
So, it wasn’t a surprise by any stretch that the topic came up during the call. And the man who has to fill the late Sheldon Adelson’s shoes didn’t shy away from it.
“We’ve been looking at New York for, I think, about a hundred years,” Goldstein quipped. “I don’t think it’s any secret. We’re big believers in New York. We think it’s extraordinary. The density of population, the ethnicity. It’s a very good opportunity for anybody.”
In actuality, Sands officials have been looking seriously at New York for about five years. Among those helping the company in the state is former Gov. David Paterson, who has served as an advisor to Goldstein.
New York Can Be “Extraordinary”
Currently, there is gaming in New York City and the surrounding area, but it’s limited.
There are three video gaming casinos in and around the city. The Resorts World Casino is located at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Just north of the Bronx is the MGM Resorts-owned Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. When fully operational, they offer more than 5,000 gaming terminals each.
Out on Long Island is Jake’s 58, a 1,000-seat VGT casino born from a Marriott in Islandia.
In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the three facilities combined to generate $1.4 billion in net revenues.
Goldstein was direct in his assessment of the current state of the New York City gaming market.
“I think it’s close to $2 billion (net revenue) right now just in the facilities that are there, without table games or decent rooms or really a decent product,” he said. “A good product there will be extraordinary.”
Report Sees Potential for NYC Casinos
The day before the Sands earnings call, the New York State Gaming Commission officially released the market assessment report developed by Spectrum Gaming Group.
Not surprisingly, the report indicated that New York’s downstate region, which includes Long Island, New York City, and the Lower Hudson Valley, has the greatest potential for growth. Spectrum forecasts a potential increase in annual gross gaming revenues from $970 million to nearly $4.5 billion in New York City.
The study also forecast potential GGR for Empire City and Resorts World becoming full-fledged casinos, along with a third casino in either Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens. It also looked at what would happen if all three boroughs received casinos and the two racinos kept VGTs.
Interestingly, Spectrum’s findings showed that a resort casino in either Brooklyn or Queens would produce slightly more revenue than one in Manhattan. A Queens casino has projected revenues of $2.3 billion, with Brooklyn about $100 million lower, and Manhattan $200 million lower. Those projections would include Empire City and Resorts World also getting casino licenses.
“While fewer visitors stay overnight in Brooklyn or Queens than Manhattan, and thus those boroughs earn a lower capture rate, those who stay in Brooklyn or Queens would be more likely to visit a nearby gaming facility than would those staying in Manhattan, which has a greater number of entertainment options nearby,” the Spectrum report stated.
The richest scenario involved all three boroughs getting a casino, while the two racinos would not. Both racinos would face a substantial drop in revenue, but overall the gross gaming revenue would total nearly $5.6 million.
Goldstein told analysts the company is enthusiastic about the developments in New York.
“We’re deep in the hunt and looking seriously at New York on a whole bunch of levels,” he said. “And it’s still a long way to go before we understand where they want to build and what they want to build, but we are going to be bidders.
“If it’s real, and if it’s done properly, we think the returns could be Sheldon-like.”