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Awarding Of Downstate New York Casino Licenses May Not Happen Until Late 2025

Written By Derek Helling on March 26, 2024
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An adjustment to a 2013 law authorizing the operation of commercial brick-and-mortar casinos in New York might prove all for naught. That’s based on the latest update for when the state’s gaming regulators might issue licenses for up to three casinos in the southern part of New York.

That update from the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) puts those decisions on a timeline to be announced in late 2025. While that proposed timeline is still tentative, it could mean that a 2023 change to the law was overly optimistic.

New York State Gaming Commission provides downstate casino licensing update

According to Courtney Gross of Spectrum News NY 1, the members of the NYSGC shared on Monday that licenses for Class III gaming facilities in the downstate area might not be awarded until the latter part of 2025.

Gross reports that commission members stressed that they wish the process could unfold sooner. However, they feel that is a realistic timeline with all the moving parts of the situation. Those include environmental studies and reviews of bids by other agencies like the Gaming Facility Location Board.

In the process, the NYSGC will decide on the suitability of applicants for a casino license according to state law. The Gaming Facility Location Board will hold its sway over where in the downstate region licensees can develop their properties.

In the conversation during the meeting, commissioners stressed that they want to leave sufficient time to receive the maximum number of applicants. While a 2023 law specifies a floor of $500 million for the cost of a license, it’s an open bidding process with no ceiling. Thus, more applicants potentially means higher bids for the licenses.

At the same time, the suggested timeline somewhat nullifies efforts to expedite the process of issuing these licenses. In turn, that could delay a separate expansion of gaming in New York that some legislators are pushing for.

Downstate NY casino licensing delay bears ramifications

From one perspective, this timeline negates a 2023 law that ended a moratorium on casino licensing early. The original 2013 law forbade the state from issuing any such licenses until 2025. The 2023 change lifted that moratorium with immediate effect. Thus, it’s possible that nothing might have changed and licenses would have been issued in late 2025 anyway with that moratorium unaltered.

There’s no guarantee that anything might have gone differently in that alternate set of circumstances, though. Had the moratorium stayed in effect and everything that has followed remained the same, the licenses might not have been issued until late 2027. From that point of view, the lifting of the moratorium still achieved its purpose.

Another consequence applies to the online version of casinos. Amid efforts to legalize online casino play for real money, legislators like New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo consider that issue a non-starter while the deliberations on downstate physical casinos are in progress.

Therefore, the legalization of New York online casinos might not happen until 2026 at the earliest. Just like with almost everything else about this situation, all interested parties can do is wait and see.

Photo by AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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