NY Senator Pushes Casino Licensing for $1bn Windfall

With New York looking at a $13 billion deficit, Senator James Skoufis has urged the state to expedite the casino licensing process and reap $1 billion in early licensing fee payments.

Senator Urges to Expedite Casino Licensing Process in New York

With COVID-19 leaving a $13 billion dent into the New York State budget, lawmakers are scrambling to make up the gaping difference between what is necessary and what is obtainable. Meanwhile, there have been calls from workers to reopen New York’s existing casinos.

Senator James Skoufis (D-Cornwall) has proposed to accelerate the casino licensing process, and specifically licenses applying to New York City. Delivering a speech earlier this week, Senator Skoufis explained that the state had to look into ways for making up for the budget deficit brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. Late on Friday, casino workers reminded Gov. Andrew Cuomo that they are “essential” and their livelihoods depended on the swift return of casinos back to normal.

With no federal assistance coming New York’s way, lawmakers need to act quickly, and boosting the legalization process for casino licenses might bring the state $1 billion, Skoufis said on Tuesday. He had this to say outlining his idea:

“The proposal would be to accelerate the license to 2020, or early 2021; and so, we would get those two $500 million one-shots: a billion dollars between the two licenses.”

He cautioned that while the state would be able to collect fees sooner that did not mean that any casino would be able to jump gun and open early. Casino openings would follow in 2023, the senator explained.

Estimated $1bn to Be Raised from Just Two Licenses

However, even two licenses right now, could bring New York $1 billion in fresh funds. The state has not been looking into the plan too seriously yet, as New York is hoping to get federal stimulus. If the government fails to release the funds, the Empire State will begin enacting stringent budget cuts.

The state has to make up from $10 billion to $13 billion, with cuts already planned across the board, including a 20% cut to local government, K-12 school, and hospitals budgets. Another unpopular move would be to hike taxes right after the cuts, and tax New Yorkers earning over $5 million a year a little more.

Skoufis warned that New York was faced with a glaring cash flow problem that needed quick and bold solutions. He had this to say:

“We are going to have to move forward with one of those very, very soon because our cash flow problem, forget about even just the fiscal year picture, being able to pay the bills for the state’s operations are becoming strained and nearing an impossible situation.”

Meanwhile, New York is still hoping that the federal government would provide some relief. Specifically, lawmakers and officials in the Empire State are hoping that COVID-19 would be treated like a national disaster and merit support from the feds. GamblingNews reminds that New York casinos were shuttered back in June.

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