State lawmakers in New York have approved proposals for an accelerated timetable to site three additional casinos in New York City or its nearby downstate communities, so now it is inevitable that the mother of all bidding wars will now commence.
The newly approved state budget will see the successful bidders for the three remaining commercial casino licences paying the state a minimum $500m licensing fee. The deal moves forward the timetable for the state to award three remaining commercial casino licences under an arrangement from a decade ago that approved seven new casinos in the state – four licences being previously granted to upstate – with the industry eagerly awaiting the big prize of New York City itself.
There is a view that the existing Aqueduct and Yonkers racetrack facilities, owned by Resorts World and MGM respectively, are favourites for selection, as they are already operating as VLT casinos, although not currently with conventional slot machines or table games.
The future casinos can be located in New York City, Long Island and three suburban counties to the north of the city. A local panel must approve any plan before it is sent to a state body for consideration. The licensing duration will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 30 years, and there will be a minimum local tax rate of 25% on slot machines and 10% on table games. A charge of $750 per slot machine per year will support gaming addiction education and treatment programmes. The non-refundable application fee will be $1m and the New York State Gaming Commission will also set a minimum capital figure investment for each of the three licences.
Senator Joseph Addabbo, Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, describes the new casino provisions as, “a win for New York State and the local communities where these licences will go,” adding that the additional revenue to the state, including the $1.5bn in license fee payments by the three winning bidders, “will allow us to significantly fund important educational and gaming addiction programs.”