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Biz leaders ‘full court pressing’ expansion of Empire City to add arena, hotel, & mobile betting

by The BCW

Bronx Times, Alex Mitchell, 3/26/2021

It’s a “no brainer” to expand MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino and raceway to include a hotel, a 10,000 seat convention center, mobile sports betting and full table games, business leaders in the Bronx and Westchester strongly argue.

Members of those commerce and labor communities, who have formed an alliance titled A Sure Bet for New York’s Future went all in for their cause during a virtual press conference on Friday afternoon – one which urged New York state to include a full scale license for the Yonkers casino in its upcoming budget.

Labor, education and other local leaders joined Lisa Sorin of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce in addition to former assemblyman and current Business Council of Westchester Chief Operating Officer, John Ravitz who called this movement a “united Bronx and Westchester project.”

“It means jobs, it means economic development, it means a great start to recovery… the public, private, and labor sectors are all in lockstep to make this happen,” Ravitz added, also saying there will be a “full court press” in upcoming days to get Empire City new credentials from Albany.

Sorin began applying that pressure by penning a letter to all Bronx delegates at a state level, zeroing in on the mobile sports betting component of the potential expansion, what she called “a perfect union” for Empire City as its existing facility would more than suffice for the addition.

“Any mobile sports betting initiative put in place by the state must also ensure that MGM Resorts, with one of the top three mobile sports betting platforms in the country, has a path to participate…it is imperative that downstate full gaming casino licenses be opened immediately to allow MGM Resorts to apply for a license for Empire City Casino,” she wrote.

Specifically, the alliance estimates the casino’s expansion to bring in 13,000 jobs and $1 billion in local revenue to an area financially ravished by the pandemic, money which the Ravitz says New York state will see almost immediately.

Sorin also cited that 300 Bronx residents are already employed at Empire City and that number could quadruple under the new license, reiterating what economic relief would likely come to the region.

As the highest tax paying entity in Yonkers, this project would also serve as an “unbelievable” tax revenue source, she added.

“We haven’t met anyone opposed to this,” Sorin said.

In the midst of this push, the alliance, which consists of over 50 local organizations and several religious institutions also announced a new co-chair on Friday, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation president, Marlene Cintron.

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