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New York City has had a taste of the spoils from the legalization of online betting, and that has stoked the desire of politicians including the city’s mayor to strongly push state legislators for more casinos in the five boroughs.

As politicians in New York State are working to finalize the state budget by the end of the week, there is a report that Governor Kathy Hochul is pressing to include a provision in it that would let the licenses for three casinos to be approved through a fast-track basis. The hope is that once that provision is approved, two of the three proposed casinos for the state would spring up in New York City. 

Mayor Eric Adams has been very vocal about this as a way to fuel the city’s recovery, with his chief of staff Frank Cerone recently taking a meeting with the chief executive from the Sands Casino complex in Las Vegas, Robert Goldstein in Manhattan. Adams has also faced some controversy over this stance due to his involvement while serving in the New York State Senate in a deal to get a casino built at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens in 2012. That deal collapsed in scandal, with Adams being scrutinized for receiving cash from the group pushing for that deal, Aqueduct Entertainment Group as well as showing “poor judgment” by appearing at a victory party held by the group. The deal was ultimately disqualified, paving the way for Genting New York to build Resorts World Casino at the site.

Hochul’s move is heavily supported by the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, who have supported her bid for re-election later this year and see it as an opportunity to help out those in the industry affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also support by Democrats in the state senate, who have requested that each licensee pay $1 billion which would be a significant boost to the state’s treasury. Lobbyists, including those from Genting Group, have reportedly donated $880,000 to Democratic politicians in Albany for their campaigns.

The 2013 state constitution made allowances for the state to have seven full-fledged casino complexes in operation by 2023. There are reportedly pitches being made by Genting Group and MGM, the two casino franchises most likely to receive the new licenses. The final license has led to lobbied proposals placing a casino on Manhattan’s East River shoreline next to the Water Club to one proposal sparked by former mayoral candidate Andrew Yang last year to have one on Governor’s Island.

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