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Deadlines For New York Downstate Casino Licensing Passes Legislature After Amendment

An amended New York downstate casino bill doesn’t really accelerate licensing but provides hard deadlines, giving it a better chance of passing.

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Matthew Kredell Avatar
5 mins read

An amended New York downstate casino bill would not necessarily accelerate the licensing process for three New York City casinos but would provide a hard deadline.

Sen. Joe Addabbo amended S9673 in the early morning hours Wednesday to require that the New York Gaming Facility Location Board make recommendations on selecting downstate casinos by Dec. 31, 2025.

Thirty days for the New York State Gaming Commission to award up to three licenses after receiving the board’s recommendations puts the regular licensing deadline at Jan. 30. However, an option for two 30-day extensions brings the final possible day for issuance of licenses to March 31, 2026.

With two days left in the legislative session, the amendment marks a significant boost for a bill that didn’t seem to have much hope in the Assembly when introduced.

Addabbo told PlayUSA that he worked with Asm. Gary Pretlow to come up with a compromise that the Assembly might pass. The New York legislature adjourns June 6 but is expected to work overnight into Friday. Addabbo doesn’t expect the Senate to pass S9673 until those early morning hours Friday.

“As of now, it’s in play. I’m pleased that we can finally codify a start and end date. The process right now has no deadline. To put a deadline on it makes it concrete and definitive, and I think adds to the integrity and fairness of it all.”

Pretlow told PlayUSA that the amended bill has a chance to pass in the Assembly.

“I think the chances are pretty good we pass this by the end of session Friday. We’re working on it. This puts deadlines in place but there’s no reason the commission can’t do it earlier. The main goal is to make things move along.”

Pretlow was almost right. The Senate passed S9673 on Friday. The Assembly went overtime until Saturday before passing the bill, which will now head to the governor.

The downstate casino process has also delayed any movement on NY online casino legislation.

Why downstate NY casino licenses have become issue

When New York legalized casinos in 2013, the state allowed for seven casino licenses in two waves. It started with four casinos located upstate and established a 10-year moratorium before three additional casinos could be added in the New York City area.

In 2022, legislators and Gov. Kathy Hochul included in the state budget language to expedite the downstate casinos by one year. The legislature intended to accelerate the issuing of the downstate casino licenses but did not include any deadlines.

However, the New York State Gaming Commission has yet to even begin taking applications due to delays in getting site approvals. At a gaming commission meeting in late March, NYSGC Executive Director Robert Williams explained:

“All of which would find a convergence of the zoning approvals, CAC considerations and environmental review completion by late summer 2025, allowing for a Gaming Facility Location Board decision in late 2025 resulting in a commission license consideration before the end of 2025.”

Feeling as though the legislature’s directive to accelerate downstate licenses wasn’t being followed, Addabbo introduced S9673 with two weeks left in the legislative session.

Changes proposed for downstate New York casino bill

Addabbo originally wanted the location board to make recommendations by March 31, the end of the fiscal year, but included the possibility of a six-month extension, bringing it to the end of September.

As amended, the bill sets a deadline of the last day of 2025 but encourages quicker action with the following language:

“The board shall complete a review of all applications that have received approval from the applicable community advisory committee … and make recommendations to the commission for the selection of up to three licenses by either the date by which all applicants have received any land use entitlements, including but not limited to all necessary state and local zoning requirements, any required parkland alienation and the deposition and acquisition of related real property, or by Dec. 31, 2025, whichever is earlier.”

The NYSGC then has 30 days to make its choices. But both the board and the commission are given the options of taking 30-day extensions if necessary, bringing the final possible date to issue licenses to March 31.

Addabbo said he was happy to negotiate with the Assembly to get the bill across the finish line as long as the deadline stayed in 2025, which is iffy in the amended bill.

“If they push anything out to 2026, I say no. It has to be 2025. I think these are attainable deadlines for downstate casinos.”

But the amended bill makes applications due Aug. 31 of this year and requires that community advisory committees be established within 60 days of applications, then submit their findings within 120 days of establishment. That could help keep selection in 2025.

As it stands, S9673 basically ensures that licensing won’t go far past the expectations set by Williams.

Pretlow explained:

“The commission has been trying to give the appearance that all potential bidders are standing on the same wavelength. To me, it’s a little ridiculous because now we’re waiting for the slowest person to catch up with the fastest one. That just slows everyone down.”

New York Senate passes other gaming bills

Addabbo wants two tweaks to New York sports betting.

The Senate passed one Tuesday, approving S8777 by a 60-1 vote. It would allow New Yorkers to make season-long prop bets on award futures such as rookie of the year and MVP. Such bets are already allowed in neighboring states.

Addabbo said he hoped to get Senate passage Wednesday for S8439, which would provide 1% of sports betting taxes for addressing problem gambling, potentially going above the $6 million annually currently allotted (though not below).

However, both bills appear unlikely to pass in the Assembly. The Senate previously included both sports betting changes in its budget proposal. The Assembly did not.

The Senate voted 61-0 to pass S9806, which makes it easier for New Yorkers to self-exclude from multiple gambling options in the state. Addabbo said the bill was provided by the governor’s office, so he’s optimistic for its passage in the Assembly.

On Thursday, the Senate passed A1118, a bill requiring all advertisements for gambling and sports betting in the state include warnings about the potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling. The Senate approved the same language passed by the Assembly in January, which should send the bill to the governor for final approval.

Matthew Kredell Avatar
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Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 and his since interviewed over 300 lawmakers around the country.

View all posts by Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 and his since interviewed over 300 lawmakers around the country.

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