NYC downstate casino projects finally get some answers from NYSGC

Glass jar of papers question marks on it
Image: Shutterstock

It took several months, but some of the questions around the downstate casino licensing process in New York finally have answers.

To be more precise, 613 questions have answers, as the New York Gaming Facility Location Board released a 103-page document containing answers to the first round of questions from potential applicants interested in one of the three available licenses.

These questions were submitted back in February and it took the board several months to fully answer them. Now, potential applicants have 30 days to digest this document and submit a second round of questions.

The scope of the questions covered a wide range and included everything from file formats and how big the sheets of paper of the application should be to high-level questions about the diversity and spending requirements.

The answers did shed some new light on topics that are of interest to more than just the applicants. For example, anyone receiving a downstate casino license will be able to offer a retail sportsbook as part of the property.

The cost of the project was also the subject of several questions. The initial license fee will be, at minimum $500 million, though applicants can submit a higher bid than that. There is also a minimum capital expenditure expectation of $500 million to build the facility.

Money potential applicants are spending now on consultants, lobbying, and pre-planning in advance of the application do not count towards that minimum spend, which means the price per project will easily swell above $1 billion dollars.

The license can last for at least 10 years, but the answers from the board indicate that number is not guaranteed, nor is it static across the licensees. Per the document:

“The Commission will consider the proposed licensing term in relation to the total financial and economic value of the Applicant’s proposal in relation to other Applicants’ proposals.”

There were also many questions about how the board will choose the Community Advisory Committees (CAC) that will offer their input on each of the projects. The answers cast some light on the selection but remained fairly cryptic about what particular people might serve.

One question on that topic that did get answered is that individuals can serve on multiple CACs, so if projects are in similar geographic areas, there is potential for some overlap in the people who will be evaluating the applications at the local level.

Once the second round of questions comes in by Oct. 6, it is back on the location board to answer questions. There is no deadline for responses, so it might be several months before the next batch of answers.