Delays Likely for New York Downstate Casino Licensing

The process for awarding three new downstate New York casino licenses is now expected to take significantly longer than originally anticipated. Industry insiders and experts had previously speculated that the bidding process for the licenses might open this month. However, with the month passing and several outstanding processes still left to be completed, it appears that the bidding is unlikely to be launched during the first quarter of this year.

According to a new report from Newsday, the process for awarding the downstate licenses could potentially be extended by a year, with the licenses not being awarded until the first quarter of 2025. This delay is much longer than initially expected.

The next step in the process is for the Gaming Facility Location Board to release the answers to questions submitted by interested casino bidders. The first round of questions was released in August, and submissions for the second round, to which responses are yet to be released, began in October. Once the Board releases the responses, a 30-day window will open for casino operators to submit their bids.

In addition to this process, casino license applicants must also address outstanding issues related to zoning. Last year, New York Mayor Eric Adams introduced a proposal to expedite the casino approvals, but it faced opposition from Community Boards.

The potential delay in awarding the licenses comes as a concern, especially since the license fees from the three casinos did not make it into the fiscal 2024-2025 budget. The budget sets a plan for the revenue through March 31, 2025. If the licenses are not awarded, New York stands to miss out on significant proceeds. Early estimates predicted a license fee of $500 million per license, or $1.5 billion in extra proceeds for the state if the licensing is expedited.

In addition to the potential delay in awarding casino licenses, the FY 2025 Budget released by Gov. Kathy Hochul did not include texts regarding the legalization of online casinos. This has raised concerns that the legalization of iGaming activities may be in jeopardy for this year.