New York Gaming Officials Still Answering Downstate Casino Questions

New York Gaming Officials Still Answering Downstate Casino Questions
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

New York State Gaming Commission staff members continue to work on answering hundreds of questions submitted by interested bidders for the state’s last three commercial gaming licenses, NYSGC Executive Director Robert Williams said Monday. As a result, it’s unlikely that official responses will be ready before the end of the year for operators and developers proposing to build casinos in or around New York City.

Williams spoke during the commission’s meeting Monday, telling commissioners the state agency received 450 questions during the second round of Q-and-A, which concluded on Oct. 6. The NYSGC has responses drafted. Still, the executive director said those must be reviewed for accuracy and consistency.

“There are no set deadlines for finalization, and staff anticipates working through the holiday season towards completion,” he added.

The state received 613 questions during the first round. Those were submitted in February, and answers were not published until early September.

Once the second round of answers is published, the 30-day window for interested bidders to submit their applications will begin.

Next year should be another big one in the Empire State, with movement on the downstate casinos as well as possible legislation to bring online New York casinos.

Fourth Location Board Member Appointed

The commission did take another step in the downstate casino selection process. It approved the appointment of Carlos Naudon to the Gaming Facility Location Board.

Naudon is the president and CEO of Ponce Bank in The Bronx. The retired attorney and CPA also owns Banking Spectrum Inc., a publishing company, and formerly taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

His appointment means four of the five seats on the board have been filled.

The GFLB will review casino applications and recommend up to three for the NYSGC to grant licenses. Before the board can receive an application, it must obtain local zoning approvals and be recommended by a Community Advisory Committee, a local panel that includes appointees by state and local officials. For an application to move to the GFLB, it must garner two-thirds support from its local CAC.

CACs for applications within New York City will have six members, while those outside the city will have five.

Zoning Might Be Waived in Certain Areas

Regarding the zoning approvals, Williams called a New York City Planning Department proposal to offer an amendment that would allow casinos in certain areas zoned for industrial or commercial use “a significant step” for casino operators and developers proposing locations inside the Big Apple.

“Under the proposed text, an approved gaming facility would be deemed complying and conforming with all applicable city use and bulk zoning regulations,” he added.

The zoning approval also would cover other amenities like hotels, bars or restaurants.

New York could see 10 or more applications being filed based on announcements made by development teams in the past year. While several gaming operators, including Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and Hard Rock, are looking at sites within the five boroughs, others want to build a casino resort elsewhere.

 Las Vegas Sands has proposed building a resort where the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum stands on Long Island. Just north of New York City, MGM Resorts International wants to transform its Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway from a video lottery terminal facility to a full-fledged casino.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.