When you’re gunning for a license to operate one of just a few New York casinos, even a strong likelihood that you will receive such a license isn’t a guarantee. That’s why two of the likely bidders that seem to have a head start aren’t taking anything for granted.
Genting New York and MGM Resorts International already operate slot parlors in the state and are looking for approval to expand those properties to fully-fledged casinos. They are also the biggest spenders on lobbying toward that end so far.
Opportunity for New York casinos drawing attention
Gambling regulators in New York are getting ready to issue three licenses for downstate casinos. Several entities are interested but perhaps none more than Genting and MGM. Genting operates the Resorts World New York City “racino” in Queens and MGM runs Empire City Casino in Yonkers.
A new license would allow Genting and MGM to add poker, retail sportsbooks, and table games to those properties. Additionally, the expansion plans will likely include many amenities like hotels and restaurants.
The scoring system for these licenses that a 2022 law details seems to give Genting and MGM an advantage over other bidders. The system gives weight to bidders who have a history in the state and facilities ready to go. However, that hasn’t stopped both companies from doing what they can to make sure they each land one of the three licenses.
A review of public records by Gothamist shows Genting and MGM have spent more than any other potential bidders so far on campaign donations and lobbying efforts in the state. According to Gothamist, Genting spent $1.9 million last year and has already contributed over $1.5 million in 2022.
That includes a donation of $69,000 to the election campaign of current Gov. Kathy Hochul. MGM’s 2022 spending on lobbying in New York comes to $242,000 through August. So far, that has bought discussions with Hochul’s staff and legislators in New York.
The analysis by Gothamist names other donors, though. As the process nears completion, the efforts and spending of these other candidates might increase.
Who else is spending on lobbying in New York?
Gothamist presents spending data from other parties that are interested in New York casinos. Those entities include:
- Hard Rock International/Seminole Tribe of Florida
- New Green Willets LLC
- Sands Corporation
- Wynn Resorts
Gothamist notes that Steve Wynn, former CEO of Wynn Resorts, has been a major donor to Hochul’s gubernatorial election opponent Lee Zeldin. New Green Willets LLC is owned by Steven Cohen, who has at times been connected to bids from both Hard Rock and the Sands Corp.
Some notable names are absent from Gothamist‘s report. Caesars Entertainment, which just shared details of its proposal to build a casino in Times Square, is among them. Another is Thor Equities, which has made its intentions to put a casino on Coney Island public. The Bally’s Corp. is also reportedly interested although it has not yet shared any details about its bid.
It’s difficult to discern exactly how much this spending will impact the eventual decisions on which bids win and which bidders are disappointed. If the campaign donations and lobbying continue, though, you could call these downstate facilities “New Pork” casinos.