In the bustling heart of New York, a catalyst for economic revitalization may soon shimmer on the horizon, with Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) at the helm, steering the Empire State towards the lucrative allure of casino gaming. With the fervor of one who sees a breakthrough within his grasp, Pretlow is championing an expedited course to issue casino licenses in the New York City area.

For two long years, New Yorkers have hung on to a promise: the swift approval of three coveted downstate casino permits. Yet, this promise has remained tantalizingly out of reach as the process languished, mired in expectations that seem to always skirt just beyond the present day. Now, there looms a possibility that the wait could stretch till late 2025 or despairingly, into early 2026.

Pretlow, alongside his legislative counterpart, Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), recently forged a path forward through legislation, designed to hasten the granting of these licenses, potentially marking March 31, 2025, as a red-letter day.

Much more than mere gambling tables at stake, Pretlow penned in a heartfelt op-ed to the Yonkers Times. He sees this mission as a lifeline to minority communities that are hemorrhaging families to regions offering more bountiful career pastures, where schools grapple with paltry budgets and commutes are hampered by crumbling infrastructure.

Lobbyists and gaming industry savants had eyes set on developments in the current year, ready for a positive turn in the licensing saga. Nevertheless, whispers of caution emanated from certain quarters, pointing to 2025 as a more realistic milestone, with bureaucratic entanglements cited as chief amongst the culprits of delay.

With New York confronted by a gaping $9.5 billion budget deficit, the hefty $500 million that each successful casino bidder is poised to contribute – an impressive $1.5 billion cumulative jackpot – beckons as a salve to fiscal wounds.

Some industry seers had even dared to speculate that the stakes could soar, with license fees ballooning to a staggering $1 billion each, such is the magnetic pull of the New York market.

“But first we need to actually start flipping cards,” Pretlow asserts. The state vowed to pick up the pace as part of a budget move two years back, with the aspirational aim of kicking off bidding in 2023. Yet as the game board stands, the Gaming Commission’s springtime bombshell to delay license awards until end of 2025 puts a damper on the tens of thousands of jobs that every bidder’s promise floated like a hopeful mirage.

It transcends the one-time bonanza of licensing fees; New York City’s potential casino empire could spin out billions in tax revenues for the state over time.

A ticking clock underscores the urgency, with a scant seven working days remaining in the state’s legislative session for 2024. The expectations ride high that should the bills pushed by Addabbo and Pretlow cut through the red tape, Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature could crystallize the vision for New York’s casino landscape as early as the dawn of 2025.

Should this bet pay off, gaming juggernauts and their real estate cohorts, armed with a two-year lead time, will set about unravelling environmental and property intricacies, charting New York’s course towards a future bright with promise and prosperity.

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Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson, a Senior Editor and respected voice in iGaming and sports, brings over a decade of journalism experience with a focus on digital gaming and cryptocurrency. Starting in sports analysis, he now leads a team of writers, delivering insightful and advanced content in the dynamic world of online gaming. An avid gamer and crypto-enthusiast, Mark's unique perspective enriches his professional analysis. He's also a regular speaker at industry conferences, sharing his views on the future of iGaming and digital finance. Follow his latest articles and insights on social media.


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