New York Casinos Not Cure For MTA Cash Needs, Says NY Post


Posted on: June 17, 2024, 01:03h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2024, 01:48h.

After Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) had a surprise change of heart on a congestion tax that would have raised much-needed revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the authority is still in need of cash. Some politicians are pitching an accelerated downstate casino approval timeline as the cure for MTA’s funding shortfall, but the New York Post says that’s a bad bet.

Seneca Nation New York gaming compact
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters on June 7, 2023. The New York Post is urging her to not rely on downstate casinos to solve the MTA’s funding needs. (Image: AP)

In an op-ed published Saturday, the Post’s editorial board noted the State Assembly recently passed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) that, if signed by Hochul, would expedite the process of awarding three New York City-area casino licenses. There’s companion legislation authored by Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) in the State Senate. Application fees, which are expected to be at least $500 million per license, could be helpful to the MTA, but the Post sees it as a bad idea.

The MTA may need cash, but ramming through casino deals to provide it has got to be among the worst ideas yet to come from our legislative overlords — and it has some very stiff competition,” wrote the editorial board.

Lobbyists and gaming industry observers were optimistic that there would be movement on awarding the New York casino licenses at some point this year. But other experts caution it’s likely a 2025 issue, citing bureaucratic delays, among other factors.

Under the bills proposed by Addabbo and Pretlow, decisions on the three winning bidders could be made by the end of the first quarter of 2025 – far better than the current timeline of late 2025 or early the following year.

New York Casino Process ‘Stinks’

Budget experts and climate groups alike were jilted by Hochul reversing her position on the congestion tax. Under that proposal, traditional passenger cars would have paid $15 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street, with fees rising to $24 for small trucks and $36 for large trucks. Motorcycles, rideshare vehicles, and taxis would have been subject to smaller fees.

The proposal was seen as an avenue for raising cash for the MTA while serving the objectives of reducing traffic and air pollution in Manhattan. That would have been a moneymaker for the city and state, but now it’s off the table and there’s no quick fix for the MTA’s capital needs — except maybe speeding up the casino process.

However, the process of awarding the three downstate casino licenses has been consistently delayed and widely panned by gaming industry experts, some of whom have called it a circus. The Post concurs, noting leveraging casinos to raise cash for public transit could be an invitation for corruption.

“First off, the licensing process stinks to high heaven: The heavy wallets of the bidders — for the licenses in question, the minimum expected bid is $500 million on up to heaven knows how much — draw greedy pols like trash draws flies,” opined the editorial board.

Post Sees Other Issues with New York Casinos

The gaming industry’s biggest names are among the 11 groups competing for the three downstate permits. That’s been a boon for the campaign coffers of Hochul and other New York politicians.

Additionally, the new gaming venues are expected to create thousands of permanent and temporary jobs while bolstering local and state collections through a variety of avenues. At least those are the selling points gaming companies and supporters in Albany are banking on.

However, casinos in New York aren’t all sunshine and profits. As the Post pointed out, there are no guarantees the venues will feature the glitz of casinos seen in movies and the venues could be magnets for crime, including drugs and prostitution.

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