The administration of Mayor Eric Adams recently made a big move when it disclosed zoning amendments that may lead to the construction of casinos in several parts of New York City. The changes that were leaked on November 23 are intended to make it easier for three casinos to open up shop in and around the five boroughs. These casinos are projected to generate $2 billion in income annually.
The recently released zoning proposal deviates from the original design by allowing the establishment of casinos in manufacturing zones and medium-to-high-density commercial districts but prohibiting them from residential areas. Furthermore, the proposal does not place any limitations on the size of the planned casinos, allowing for the establishment of auxiliary services such as restaurants and hotels.
Reducing Bureaucratic Hurdles for Casino Bidders
The office of Mayor Adams defends the laxer regulations by highlighting its goal of saving casino bidders from a burdensome amount of paperwork. Notwithstanding the relaxed rules, state officials will conduct a thorough evaluation of casino applications, which will be supervised by a six-member council made up of municipal representatives with the authority to vote.
Urban planners have concerns, despite the government viewing these adjustments as a streamlining measure. George Janes, a consultant for many community boards, finds the proposal’s broad approval startling. City Planning Commission member Gail Benjamin notes that the wording used would permit developers to convert hotels—which are normally subject to severe regulations—for casino usage.
It is not anticipated that the nine bidders for casino licenses would have their plans materially affected by the revised zoning plan. Although certain bids—such as Bally’s in the Bronx and Steve Cohen’s in Queens—might require permits for the development of parklands, the larger proposal takes these places into account. Before going to the state level, every casino bid would have to go through separate evaluations in the absence of this citywide zoning amendment.
A six-person community advisory group will review the casino ideas when the City group grants its potential approval. If a bid is approved, it must receive four votes or more to move on to the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board. Before granting a final license, this board will evaluate each project’s potential for economic development.
The state has not yet received any applications for casino licenses, despite the gradual advancement in the selection process. A state board has responded to applicants’ procedural queries, and more questions are planned. Consequently, with each casino expected to bring in $2 billion a year, the decision-making process over casino license applications is probably going to go far into the next year.
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