New York City Moves One Step Closer to Awarding Casino Licenses

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A general view at the MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Three coveted downtown New York City casino licenses are up for grabs and the titans of the industry are salivating over the prospect of obtaining them.

In the most recent move forward in the process, three of the five members of the newly formed Gaming Facility Location Board have been chosen.

This is a key step in New York’s sports betting front and for the casinos hoping to secure a license.

The Clock is Ticking

The moment a majority of the Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) was selected, the sand in the hourglass began to flow. According to state law, once three or more of the five-member panel have been chosen, they will have 90 days to begin the process of soliciting proposals from casino developers.

Now that this step has been taken, the bidding shall commence in earnest. Once those bids are rendered to the GFLB, then they will have complete and total autonomy to select which three gaming companies will be chosen to be awarded the highly-sought casino licenses.

It’s Not All Up to The Gaming Facility Location Board

However, there will be several five-to-six-member community advisory boards consisting of local legislators coupled with representatives from both the mayor’s and governor’s offices that will determine whether the casino proposal has the support of the impacted community.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo, a Queens Democrat and chairman of the powerful Senate gaming committee said he and his fellow lawmakers “all agree, for the most part, that there should be some element of local control.”

“Does it look like a council built up of elected officials and community people? What does it look like?” Addabbo said in an interview. “And I think that’s where we’re at, at this point.”

Once the community advisory boards give their stamp of approval, it will be handed over to the Gaming Facility Location Board for further scrutiny and approval. These steps must be taken for the licenses to be awarded and the projects to be approved.

No Interference

The chairman of the Gaming Commission, Brian O’Dwyer, said the newly installed Gaming Facility Location Board will be permitted to operate of its own accord and without any intrusion from the Gaming Commission.

The purpose of the GFLB was to find members who had no link to the gaming industry and no vested interest in any products or companies that could materially gain from being awarded one of the three licenses.

“This is not preconceived,” O’Dwyer said at the commission’s meeting in Manhattan. “It is their job to make an independent decision as to the appropriateness of the licenses.”

The three members recently selected were:

  • Quenia Abreu, president, and CEO of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
  • Vicki Been, a New York University law professor, former New York City deputy mayor, and commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
  • Stuart Rabinowitz, former president of Hofstra University.

There has been no update as to when the remainder of the GFLB will be chosen, but the bids could be solicited without them if there is a considerable delay in selecting the final two members.

Initially, the winning bidders were slated to pay a $500 million licensing fee but it is rumored that could spike as high as one billion dollars.

The major players interested in the licenses are reported to be the Hard Rock, Wynn Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands.

Other contenders are the Genting Group, which operates Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, and MGM Resorts International, which operates Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway.