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Two state lawmakers, Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, are pushing a bill to speed up the process of awarding casino licenses in New York City. Currently, the state gaming commission has delayed the awarding of licenses until Dec. 31, 2025, drawing criticism from industry figures. The proposed law would require bids to be submitted by July 31 of this year and the licenses to be approved by March 31 of next year.

Industry sources believe that the current timetable benefits bidders facing political resistance or land-use issues. Some of the major bidders under these circumstances include Steve Cohen, the owner of the Mets, who wants to build a $8 billion entertainment complex in Queens, and Related Companies/Caesars, which is proposing a $12 billion casino complex in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. The proposed bill, with a faster time frame, could boost the chances of existing slots parlors like Resorts World at Aqueduct and MGM Empire City at Yonkers raceway.

Sen. Addabbo and Assemblyman Pretlow claim that they are not favoring any specific bidders but simply want to accelerate the process to create jobs and generate revenue for the state. They argue that the current delays are causing inefficiencies and leaving thousands of jobs on hold. Each winning bidder would be required to pay the state an upfront license fee of at least $500 million. The bill would also allow winning bidders two years to resolve any legal or land-use issues that may arise.

However, some issues remain unresolved, such as the need for legislative approval for certain projects to move forward. For example, Steve Cohen requires approval to redesignate vacant lots around Citi Field for commercial use. State Sen. Jessica Ramos, representing the area where the proposed casino would be located, has not shown support for the project. Assemblyman Pretlow highlights the need to move the process forward to avoid missing out on potential revenue opportunities.

Governor Kathy Hochul, who oversees the gaming commission, has not committed to speeding up the casino licensing process. She will review any legislation that passes both houses of the legislature. Various other casino plans are also in the works, including bids for Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen, The Bronx, and Coney Island. The fast-tracking of the casino licensing process could have significant economic implications for the state, generating billions of dollars in revenue and creating thousands of jobs. Ultimately, the decision will impact the future of the gaming industry in the New York City area.

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