New York City Mayor Eric Adams appears completely on board with the idea of a full-scale casino in New York City. His administration recently made a move that could stir some controversy in order to accommodate that possibility.
While there are still many moving parts for each of the numerous bids for a license to operate a casino in the southern part of New York, Adams’ proposal could address multiple potential obstacles. The path forward continues to be long, however.
Adams presents broad zoning code change
Like with essentially any commercial development, a New York City casino would have to operate within the city’s zoning ordinances. Currently, those do not allow for the operation of a casino. Adams wants to change that.
According to Janaki Chadha of Politico, Adams has presented a zoning amendment that could give a casino developer broad leave to develop a property after receiving a license from the state. That introduction is just the start of a months-long process.
From here, the amendment could go through several revisions. In order to become part of the city’s code, it must receive approval from several bodies and individuals. That includes the 59 community boards in New York City, the presidents of the five boroughs, and the New York City Council.
That review process could change the amendment drastically.
Adams leaves details up to casino developers
Ben Brachfield of AMNY breaks down how Adams’ proposal is intentionally vague. There are reasons for that lack of specificity. As Adams has no idea which of the numerous bids will receive a license, specific parameters could force a winning bidder to adjust their plans.
Additionally, a broad ordinance would save the city tremendous labor costs of having to process multiple land-use applications. That would hasten the timeline for city approvals for a casino as well.
Regardless of the potential savings in cost and time, there are some who see the amendment as too generous to a casino developer. Brachfield reports that Manhattan Community Board 5 land use chair Layla Law-Gisko called the lack of specificity very unusual. Law-Gisko stated a desire for the amendment to “be much strengthened through the review process.”
While that review process plays out, a final ordinance that is amenable to casino interests will be essential for a New York City casino. While not all of the existing bids are for a site in New York City, the vast majority are. Without the necessary development permits, it’s unlikely that the state will grant a license to a bidder.
The timing of this amendment also suggests that it could be several months yet before the New York State Gaming Commission decides on licensees. The body responsible for making that decision could wait until after the zoning issues are out of the way.
At the same time, without this zoning change, that decision could come even further into the future. The questions of where and who in relation to a downstate New York casino could depend to some degree on how this zoning amendment reads in its final version.