A bus promises a "free luxury ride" to the Resorts World New York, just "MINUTES AWAY" from the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Photo: Chris Sampson

Lawmakers in New York consider yet another expansion of non-Indian gaming

Lawmakers are weighing plans to approve commercial casinos in New York City in yet another expansion of non-Indian gaming in the Empire State

The last major expansion of non-Indian gaming occurred without tribes at the table. But even though some of those facilities are struggling -- or perhaps because of it -- The New York Times reports of offers from non-Indian developers to bring casinos into the state's most populous city.

“They are offering $500 million each,” one Democratic lawmaker told the paper, adding: “It could go into this year’s budget.”

The Oneida Nation and the Seneca Nation were both promised zones of exclusivity for their gaming operations. But the state allowed one non-Indian facility to open right on the border of the Oneida's zone and later forced arbitration on the Senecas in order to keep taking a share of the tribe's gaming revenues.

Previously, the state promised tribes three off-reservation casinos in the Catskills, a region close to New York City. But none of those came to fruition amid hostility during the George W. Bush administration and intense opposition from non-Indian interests -- including former gaming developer Donald Trump, who had to admit that he violated state law by smearing the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in a shady media campaign.

The Times notes that the non-Indian backers of the newer commercial casinos were also promised a form of exclusivity and were told that no gaming licenses would be granted "anywhere near New York City until 2023." But developers are willing to pay the state to break that pledge, the paper said.

“I think, in an iconic city like New York, to have an iconic structure, would be another, really beautiful, tourism destination,” former governor David Paterson, who has been hired by Las Vegas Sands to lobby for new casinos.

Las Vegas Sands, incidentally, is owned by Sheldon Adelson, who is one of President Trump's most wealthy supporters.

New York City is already home to one gaming facility. According to The Times, Resorts World New York in the borough of Queens, which happens to be the highest-grossing facility in the nation, is lobbying for the chance to convert its property into a full-fledged casino with slot machines and table games.

“Resorts World is a proven operator ready to move immediately once given the authorization,” a spokesperson for the Genting Group of Malaysia, which operates Resorts World, told The Times. The firm hat has been has been financing efforts by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to open a stalled casino in nearby Massachusetts.

Read More on the Story
Could New York City Get Real Casinos? State Leaders Are Listening (The New York Times March 20, 2019)

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