The three commercial gaming licenses for downstate New York have been a topic of discussion again. In a recent interview, Queens Borough President Donovan Richard spoke on the topic and said he is in favour of a casino near Citi Field. The owner of the New York Mets, Steven Cohen is behind the proposal and there have been mixed reactions to it.
After an initial moratorium on the downstate commercial licenses, New York is now moving forward with their issuance. The state’s Gaming Location Facility Board already started the review process for bids from candidates. The winners will pay US$500 million per license and are expected to invest another at least US$500 million in the area.
Saying Yes to the Gaming Location
Mr. Richard said that he supports Mr. Cohen’s plan to launch a casino property close to Citi Field despite the existence of another gaming property in Queens, the Resort World New York City. He believes a second casino would provide more jobs, entertainment and opportunities. He also praised RWNYC and the Aqueduct for paving the way for workers as most of them are unionized.
He noted that communities around Citi Field have been heavily impacted by the unprecedented situation from 2020 and he wished the region would have opportunities to grow. However, he still has some questions regarding the project. For instance, he is interested in job creation, and how the owner of the NY Mets will invest in the outskirts of the community and tie locals to the new opportunities.
Casino Bid Dependent on Lawmaker
However, Mr. Cohen’s plans to build a casino near the stadium are heavily dependent on New York State Sen. Jessica Ramos. In May, it was reported that she had no plans to introduce a bill which was supposed to change the designation of property in the Willets Point region. The bill is not completely ruled out, but at the time, the Senator’s decision would affect the plans.
The matter will most likely not be discussed in the current legislative session, as there is not much time to do so. The New York Legislature is on course to be dismissed on June 8, 2023, hence there be only 11 to 12 working days left in the session. There is also the issue of how much support a casino project would receive from businesses and communities of the Citi Field area.
Locals also Support the Project
After the initial backlash against the project, the owner of the NY Mets released a survey, which found that around 89% of the surveyed supported the plans for a casino. But the results could be misleading as the questions were ambiguous. In the poll, participants were asked if they wanted to see Willets Point remain as 50 acres of undeveloped asphalt, or if they wanted to use it for something great for everyone.
Source: “Queens Borough Pres. Donavan Richards supports proposed casino near Citi Field” CBS News, August 6, 2023