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Proposed New York casinos forge ahead despite opposition to the projects

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  • Digital Team 

The race to jump on the casino gaming bandwagon in New York is continuing apace, despite high-profile opposition to one of the projects.

While people can play real money online casino games in New York, approvals for land-based venues have taken much longer to be finalised.

State voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 allowing for the creation of up to seven new casinos across the state.

Property tax relief, funding for private schools and the creation of additional employment were cited as the primary reasons behind the move.

The plan was split into two phases, the first of which involved the development of four casinos. These were located in a sizeable upstate region stretching as far as the Finger Lakes.

A further three brick-and-mortar casinos are scheduled to be approved in the New York City metropolitan area, with the end of 2025 set as the target date for this process to be completed.

The Queens district has been touted as one of the potential front-runners, but State Senator Jessica Ramos is firmly opposed to the plans.

In a recent interview with New York Magazine, she declared that ‘the vast majority of our neighbours would not welcome a casino in our backyard’.

The news is a blow to New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, who wants to develop Metropolitan Park with a Hard Rock Hotel, public parks, restaurants, and a gaming and entertainment complex.

However, Cohen still plans to forge ahead despite Ramos’ opposition and may seek support from a different state senator who is willing to back the project.

Resorts World New York City is reportedly among the favourites to secure one of the casinos which would be built on an existing complex at Aqueduct Race Track in South Ozone Park.

The project includes a 7,000-capacity entertainment venue, 1,600 new hotel rooms and one of the largest casino gaming areas in the world.

Gaming giants MGM are also firmly in the running with a proposal to redevelop the MGM Empire by adding top-class casino facilities and a 5,000-seat concert venue.

Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn are among the other regions in New York where land-based casino establishments could open their doors next year.

Community Advisory Committees (CACs) comprising local and state representatives will assess each bid, before the final decision is made by a Gaming Facility Location Board.

The governor has already appointed four members to the board with a fifth to be added in due course. They are not compensated, cannot be lobbied and cannot have conflicts of interest.

The key elements for a successful bid include a minimum $500 million investment, revenue generation for the state and localities, and plenty of new jobs.

Public education has traditionally benefited from gaming revenues in the state, but other sectors such as transport and property are set to receive a windfall from the licensing fees for the new venues.

Environmental and land use review processes are already underway for the projects, which should be ready to be presented to the CACs by the middle of next of year.

Those committees will comprise six appointees representing the governor, mayor, a state senator, state assembly member, the borough president and the local council member.

Projects require two-thirds approval to progress to the final review by the Gaming Facility Location Board, which is slated to rubber-stamp the remaining three casinos by the end of 2025.

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