In 11th-hour talks between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders to finalize the delayed state budget, sources told The Post Monday night that a proposal to open a new casino in Manhattan or another part of New York City hu has surfaced.
Legislative sources said Cuomo was behind a plan in New York City that included the establishment of a “cultural advisory board” to help determine where a casino could be constructed, probably in Manhattan.
Opponents say it’s a crapshoot.
“Cuomo is like a mad scientist in his lab drafting language for a new casino. Legislators in the Senate and Assembly are rejecting budget language giving the governor the authority to locate a casino in Manhattan,” said a city lawmaker who requested anonymity.
However, the state senator who chairs the committee in charge of gambling concerns reported that a downstate casino license is on the table.
“It’s being discussed. It’s part of budget negotiations,” said Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens). State leaders were also finalizing a separate deal to legalize app-based, mobile sports betting.
Beginning in 2023, as many as three casinos will be approved in the downstate area, which includes the city, the lower Hudson Valley, and Long Island, according to current law. As part of his executive budget proposal in January, Cuomo addressed putting out feelers for preliminary interest from casinos.
Cuomo and lawmakers are now discussing speeding up the process for submitting formal request requests and licensing a casino or casinos as part of the 2021-2022 budget in order to raise revenue. According to Addabbo, a casino license could bring in up to $500 million for the state’s coffers.
“There’s a lot of opposition to opening a casino in Manhattan,” he said.
The Post obtained language of a bill that talks about “siting a gaming facility within the City of New York.”
The bill will create a neighborhood advisory board to review casino applications in New York City.
The governor, senate majority leader, and assembly speaker will each name five members to the advisory board.
The board’s 15 appointees will appoint the remaining five members.
“Such advisory board shall have representatives of the area where the facility is to be located and any other impacted areas, which shall include but not be limited to: representatives of city government, community boards, the borough president, the city council, the mayor’s office and community stakeholders, as appropriate,” the bill draft states.
Members of the advisory board would not be paid, but would be reimbursed for their expenditures. Local elected officials will be allowed to serve on the casino siting committee.
Three major casino companies are salivating over a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring a slice of the Las Vegas Strip to New York, according to a story in the New York Post last month.
Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corporation, and Las Vegas Sands have all been positioning themselves to bid for a casino license in the New York City area.
According to reports, the activities have included speaking with potential developer partners and wooing local officials for help.
The drive came before President Biden and Congress poured $12.6 billion into New York State coffers, reducing the need to rely on casino income to balance the budget.
But Addabbo said, “The federal money doesn’t last. We needed the revenue.”
Cuomo and lawmakers also plan to slap a $4 billion tax hike on high-income taxpayers and businesses.
Willets Point in Queens, where new Mets owner Steve Cohen leases the Citi Field ballpark and adjacent parking lots; the Belmont Park development in Long Island, which already has the Belmont Park racetrack and the Islanders stadium; and Staten Island’s St. George neighborhood, which is home to both the Staten Island Ferry and the Empire Ounce.
The Aqueduct and Yonkers racetracks’ gambling parlors can also apply to become full-fledged casinos with live table games. The “racinos” now only sell electronic slot machines that have been approved by the state Lottery Division of the Gaming Commission.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment right away.