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New York City Planning Commission Approves Casino Zoning Amendment

Written By Derek Helling on March 25, 2024
exterior of new york city hall

While the process to award three licenses to operate brick-and-mortar casinos in the southern part of New York is nowhere near completion, a potential obstacle to at least one of those casinos being located in New York City could soon be out of the way. City zoning laws might soon no longer pose a threat.

New York City’s Planning Commission has approved an amendment offered by Mayor Eric Adams, forwarding the proposal to the full council. While a final approval is no foregone conclusion right now, the change might be vital if New York City is to become home to a physical casino.

Planning Commission advances zoning amendment with strong support

Adams presented the amendment in November 2023 amid criticism of the language of the proposal being too vague. Those criticisms have not proven a significant point of derision, yet, though. According to David Danzis of PlayNY, the New York City Planning Commission approved the amendment 10-2.

The Adams Administration felt that current zoning language did not allow for casino gaming in the city’s five boroughs. Thus, a change was necessary for a successful bid as Adams would like to see the city become home to at least two of the three licensees.

The amendment still needs approval from the full New York City Council among others. It’s unclear right now whether concerns about the amendment being too broad will prove detrimental to its approval going forward.

What seems to be more certain, though, is that there’s no rush for the council to consider the measure. The city’s zoning language may not be of substance for some time yet.

New York casino licensing process has yet to begin

While multiple potential casino developers have shared details of their proposals, all of them are speculative to this point. The New York State Gaming Commission has not yet initiated the license application process. Thus, none of the parties have actually submitted bids.

A timeline for when the state’s gaming regulatory body will start considering applications is vague right now, too. All the moving parts have several implications for hopeful licensees. Local zoning laws are just one part of broader considerations.

Local support for a casino in the community will be a significant factor. Several developers of individual projects are currently struggling with such support.

As long as the application process remains dormant, all these issues may not prove fatal to any of the bids. When that process opens, however, any of them could make all the difference between a losing and winning bid.

If Adams’ amendment is enacted, New York City’s zoning laws might not be what stands in their way.

Photo by AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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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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