Casinos Compete to Expand in Upstate NY
Can MGM Resorts Mine New York City Casino Gold Before 2023?
A moratorium on downstate gambling continues to hold the casino operator in check.
Nov 12, 2019 at 6:30AM They say patience is a virtue, but MGM Resorts can't wait much longer: It wants the State of New York to grant its Empire City casino in Yonkers a upstate casino casino license within the next year or so.
It believes the 97-acre property that contains the casino and the Yonkers Raceway horse track is a potential gold mine, and it's not wrong.
Image source: Empire City.
In New York City's backyard Yonkers sits a few miles north of Manhattan, the most populous city in the country, making it a prime location for a casino and sports betting operation.
Gamblers currently need to drive about three hours north to Connecticut for the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, or an equal distance to the south to gamble in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
New York does have four upstate casinos of its own, but three of them upstate casino even farther away, approaching a four-hour ride.
The closest one is Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, which is a two-hour drive.
So having one that's just minutes away -- OK, an hour if you know anything about Manhattan traffic -- would be a mecca for gamblers.
Moreover, New York is home to some of the richest major league sports franchises, including baseball's Yankees, basketball's Knicks, football's Giants and Jets, and hockey's Rangers.
The state legislature, though, has only at the upstate casinos, and they're also why MGM can't get a full casino license.
At least not yet.
Champing at the bit When New York State legalized casino gambling in 2013 and established the four casinos, it created a 10-year moratorium on issuing any additional downstate licenses in an effort to give the fledgling operators a chance to establish themselves.
The ban, which expires in 2023, also prevents downstate tracks like Yonkers Raceway from operating a sportsbook.
Genting Group operates the Resorts World Casino in Queens, one of New York City's five boroughs, making it arguably even better positioned than MGM should casino gambling move downstate.
Both MGM and Genting began lobbying state legislators this year to lift the ban, even offering to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees if the moratorium was lifted early.
MGM has argued it will create jobs and revenue, and with Empire City having 180,000 square feet of gambling floor space -- the largest in MGM's portfolio learn more here one of the biggest in all of North America -- the resort operator would be able to get up and running quickly.
CEO Jim Murren recently told area business executives upstate casino MGM wants to expand what's possible on the site to more closely tie sports and entertainment to upstate casino conference space and business opportunities it envisions: "Sports and live entertainment is a very big part of what we do.
We are really differentiated in how we use sports and entertainment to have a conversation.
Its owner, Empire Resorts not to be confused with MGM's Empire Citywhich is 86% owned by Genting Group's chairman, asked the state to bail out the casinos, upstate casino Gov.
Cuomo also opposes lifting the casino moratorium, saying it was imposed for the upstate casinos.
And whether the ban is lifted or not, Las Vegas Sands says any new casino licenses should be auctioned off, not just handed out to existing operators.
Sands also hired David Paterson, a former New York governor, to lobby on its behalf.
It's clear the New York City is a potential mother lode for MGM Resorts, but its ambitions for casino gambling and sports wagering could turn into fool's gold if its big bet on Yonkers is delayed or -- worse yet -- if licenses are handed out to the competition instead.
The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Moody's.
The Motley Fool recommends Las Vegas Sands.
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Welcome to Great Resorts World Casino (2) Catskills. Upstate, NY. March 3, 2019
Resorts World Catskills, facing potential bankruptcy, has a casino giant as. As one of four upstate casinos approved by New York regulators, ...
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