'We're leaving $2B on the table'

Two state lawmakers say it’s time to roll the dice on awarding casino licenses in the New York City area and are backing a bill that would speed up the current much-criticized timetable.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) are pushing a proposed law in the waning days of the state legislative session that would require bids to be submitted by July 31 of this year and the gaming commission to approve the three casino licenses by March 31 of next year.

The state gaming commission recently announced that the casino licenses wouldn’t be awarded until Dec. 31, 2025, triggering denunciations including from a top Sands casino official who wants to open a gaming facility at the Nassau Coliseum hub in Uniondale, LI.

New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow are backing a bill that would speed up the process for the state to award casino licenses. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Some industry sources say the more drawn-out timetable benefits bidders facing political resistance or ongoing zoning or land-use issues.

Those bidders include Mets owner Steve Cohen, whose hope is to build an $8 billion casino and entertainment complex next to Citi Field in Queens, and the Related Companies/Caesars, which is proposing a $12 billion casino/office tower complex in Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, sources say the proposed faster time frame boosts the chances of existing slots parlors — Resorts World at Aqueduct race track and MGM  Empire City at Yonkers raceway — who want to obtain a license.

Both entities already have facilities and would merely have to expand to offer live card table games.

Addabbo and Pretlow insist they’re not putting their thumb on the scale to favor anyone.

A rendering of the proposed casino in Hudson Yards from Related Companies/Wynn Resorts. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts
A rendering of Sands casino proposed on the Nassau Coliseum campus.

They said they just want to accelerate the timetable to generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in additional revenue for the state.

“It’s taking too long. There are inefficiencies,” said Addabbo, whose district borders Genting’s Resorts World slots parlor at Aqueduct in Queens.

“We have to move. There are 5,000 jobs on hold — minimally,” he said.

Addabbo claimed that the process is holding up 5,000 jobs from being created. AP Photo/Mike Groll

Each of the bidders would pay the state an up front license fee of at least $500 million.

The pol noted that the language in the measure would give a winning bidder two years to figure out any land-use or other legal problems — though it’s an open question whether locally appointed siting boards would recommend any bid to the gaming commission that has outstanding issues.

Cohen, for example, needs the state legislature to approve a bill to redesignate the vacant lots around Citi Field from parkland to commercial use for his proposed casino to be built.

Mets owner Steve Cohen is backing a proposal for a casino in Queens near Citi Field. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), who represents the Willets Point area where the proposed casino would be located, has refused to introduce the bill or back the project, at least up till now.

“I’ve been trying to get the process moving,” said Pretlow, whose district is near the Yonkers racino. “It’s taking too long. We’re leaving $2 billion on the table.

“Why are we stringing this along? We’re spinning our wheels here.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who oversees the gaming commission, was non-committal over whether to speed up the casino licensing process.

“Governor Hochul will review all legislation that passes both houses of the legislature,” a spokesman told The Post.

Pretlow said New York state is leaving $2 billion “on the table” by taking too long. AP Photo/Hans Pennink

The governor is up for re-election in 2026.

Other casino plans include SL Green/Caesars/Roc Nation bid for Times Square, Bally’s at Ferry Point in The Bronx, Silverstein Properties in Hell’s Kitchen, and the Thor Equity consortium gaming facility complex along the Coney Island boardwalk.

Source link