When the New York Legislature recently passed an amendment that could eventually clear the way for the establishment of seven privately-owned, full-scale gambling casinos, the state’s racino industry was justifiably pleased since it has been fighting for years to secure the rights to offer traditional table game wagering at their facilities.
But now that the euphoria has dissipated, the New York racino industry is left to contemplate one unpleasant fact-there are nine trackside casinos in the state, but only seven casino licenses will be granted; which means at least two tracks will be denied expanded gaming privileges, and maybe more if new, ground-up proposals are allowed to compete for casino licenses.
All of which means many tracks are already lobbying through the press and one would assume the Legislature to make sure they’re first in line for a casino license, despite the fact the casino enabling legislation is far from a certainty. Indeed, to become law, the exact same casino amendment needs to be approved by the Legislature in 2013 and by voter referendum in November 2013. New York is already home to five tribal gaming casinos that have compacted for the right to offer table games and will likely lobby hard against the casino enabling amendment unless some sort of regional casino exclusivity can be arranged.
The process to determine exactly who will be granted the licenses and how they will be distributed across the state will be tackled by the Legislature next year.
Still, a number of racinos have already announced their intentions to fight for a casino license and outlined the reasons why they deserve one of the limited licenses. For example, the Saratoga Casino & Raceway told the Albany Business Review that winning a casino license would trigger a $40 million expansion that would expand the property’s gaming space, add a new hotel and conference center and generate an additional 400 jobs.
Other tracks have chimed in as well.
“We will work with our Western New York delegation and the governor to make sure Batavia Downs is one of the approved full gaming venues in the state. It is imperative that Western New York not be left behind on a great potential for new jobs and revenues returned to local governments,” Michael Nolan, vice president of Western Region OTB, told The Buffalo News.
“We look forward to meeting with state officials and make the argument that both Tioga and Vernon are well suited to be converted to full casinos and that we are prepared to make significant capital improvements both facilities in order to justify the Governor’s goal of creating jobs and additional revenue for the state… The economic benefits of this bill include more than 700 construction and operational jobs between Tioga and Vernon Downs created by expanded gaming in New York State would be a great economic boost to our local regions,” Jeff Gural, chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, which owns Tioga Downs Casino and Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, said in a prepared statement.
Genting, the Malaysia-based company that that recently opened the Resorts World New York casino at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens, N.Y., has also made its intentions known, dangling a massive $4 billion convention center expansion is it is granted a casino license.