Labor Leaders, Politicos Make Last Ditch Plea For Full Gaming License for Empire City Casino

Labor Leaders, Politicos Make Last Ditch Plea For Full Gaming License for Empire City Casino
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard was among the speakers advocating for the state to grant a full casino license to Empire City Casino in Yonkers.

YONKERS—A group that now consists of 60 labor, business and community organizations in the New York metro region held a rally on June 2 at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers to press Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to grant a full casino gaming license to Empire City Casino.

Earlier this year in his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent signals that he might push up the timeline to approve up to three downstate (New York metro area) casino licenses. Gov. Cuomo in his State of the State address in January said he intended to ask the New York State Gaming Commission to issue a Request for Information for interested parties in securing up to three of the remaining casino gaming licenses in Downstate New York (New York City metro region) to be granted by New York State. However, while he and the legislature approved mobile sports betting, the downstate casino expansion has stalled and the legislative session is scheduled to gavel to a close next week on June 10.

The “A Sure Bet for New York’s Future” Alliance’s rally at the Yonkers casino featured remarks from Thomas Carey, president, Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body, Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester; Marlene Cintron, president, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp and Lisa Sorin, President, The New Bronx Chamber of Commerce and others.

“Hard-working folks in the Bronx just need the opportunity to provide for their families and earn a good living,” said Thomas Carey, President of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body. “Lawmakers can bring tens of thousands of jobs to the region, and all they need to do is allow Empire City to operate with a full license.”

“We are just days from the conclusion to the current legislative session. That is how much time legislators have to prove to their constituents that their priorities are Albany’s priorities,” said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of Business Council of Westchester. “It is time for elected leaders to move forward with establishing a definitive RFI process, which is a common-sense solution to the jobs crisis plaguing this region.”

Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, added, “The Bronx is primed for a strong comeback, but only if lawmakers in Albany prioritize the jobs needs of our residents. The impact that the COVID recession has had on these communities is significant, but we can – and will – bounce back. A job, not unemployment, is the gift that keeps on giving.”

The addition of up to three casino gaming facilities in the New York City metro region that might include: Empire City Casino in Yonkers, Resorts World New York at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens—both operating as Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) facilities—and perhaps at the new Belmont complex in Nassau County or at a site to be developed in Manhattan, would definitely impact customer traffic at Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County and at other existing upstate casinos. If the downstate initiative does move forward, the state would be beginning the process early, since the state’s gaming law bans the award of downstate casino licenses until 2023. The measure was intended to allow the upstate casinos to establish a client base before they faced competition from downstate facilities.

The granting of a full gaming license to Empire City could fuel significant economic growth and jobs to the region. Back in March, a spokesman for Empire City Casino told Real Estate In-Depth that if awarded a full gaming license and sports betting access, Empire City Casino owner MGM Resorts has committed to spend approximately $400 million in the first phase of its planned investment at the Yonkers property.

“As County Executive, I fully support the Alliance’s efforts to transform Empire City into a full-scale casino,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. New York’s economy and our communities stand to benefit greatly from the tens of thousands of jobs that would come to this region as a result. This is, in fact, a wise and obvious choice.”

“We are fortunate to have Empire City in our neighborhood. As the largest private employer in Yonkers and one of the largest in the state, this location can be an incubator for even more employment opportunities, across multiple industries,” said Yonkers Mike Spano. “With June 10th just around the corner, we need lawmakers in Albany to act before it’s too late.”

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