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NY: New multisectoral alliance pushes for MGM Empire City’s full-scale license

by The BCW

Yogonet, 3/8/2021

A group of 32 businesses, community organizations and labor groups have come together under the banner “A Sure Bet for New York’s Future” to support a full gaming license and access to mobile sports betting for MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers, New York.

 The alliance staged a virtual news conference on Thursday featuring its co-chairs John Ravitz, executive vice president and COO of the Business Council of Westchester; Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce; and Thomas Carey, president of Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body.

 The three co-chairs sent a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers and State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie asking that a process be put in place to allow the issuance of a license to Empire City this year instead of waiting until 2023 when restrictions on downstate licenses that had been put into effect to protect upstate casinos run out.

 “A full-scale casino license for Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts in Yonkers is a no-brainer,” Ravitz said, as reported by Westfair Online. “The brick and mortar is already in place. A full-scale casino license will enhance the existing facility and is a clear path to providing significantly more revenue for the state, offering union jobs, and supporting the entire region.”

 Ravitz pointed out that when it comes to sports betting, MGM already has one of the top mobile sports betting platforms in the country, BetMGM.

 Sorin said there is overwhelming support among Bronx residents, community leaders, and businesses for Empire City to become a full-scale casino. “A full-scale casino license for Empire City will no doubt have a direct impact on the Bronx,” Sorin said. Carey anticipated a $1 billion impact from granting a full casino license to Empire City. “Think of all of the union jobs this will create for business,” Carey said. “If Albany wants to prioritize economic recovery, they must allow Empire City to apply for a full-scale casino license as soon as possible.”

 The renewed push comes as a state consultant’s report found there could be revenue of $500-$800 million if Empire City and a Queens casino became full-scale and/or the state allowed for new casinos in New York City. Cuomo included a budget line that allows the Gaming Commission to request information from casinos interested in the three un-awarded gaming facility licenses authorized by the State Constitution. There’s been an unwillingness from Cuomo and some lawmakers to grant the downstate casinos full-scale licenses because it could hurt the bottom line of upstate casinos.

 The letter to the Albany leaders pointed out that before the pandemic, Empire City was one of the largest private employers in Westchester, providing more than 1,000 local, union jobs to New Yorkers, many of them residents of Yonkers, the Bronx, and Mount Vernon. “If granted a full-scale casino license, complete with live dealer table games, retail and mobile sports betting, Empire City would have the opportunity to generate significantly more revenue, speed up the state’s recovery, and create new jobs with tens of millions in additional annual wages,” the letter said.

 “The state is facing a $15 billion deficit,” Ravitz said during the news conference. “Albeit we don’t know what we’re going to be getting from Washington but we need sustainable revenue. We can’t depend on one-shots to help us not only get out of this year’s deficit but also the out-years that we’re facing. That’s why this alliance has been created. That’s why this alliance will be laser-focused and dedicated to continue to urge the governor and the legislature to get this done now during this budget cycle.”

 A spokesperson for the casino told Lohud that Empire City is thrilled to have strong support across Westchester and the Bronx. “Before the pandemic, Empire City Casino was proud to be the largest private employer in Yonkers and we can play a pivotal role in New York’s recovery by bringing back well-paying jobs, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in capital development, and generating hundreds of millions of immediate revenue dollars through full-scale casino and mobile sports betting license fees,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We remain committed to hiring and investing locally. Many of Empire City Casino’s employees are from Yonkers, the Bronx, Mt. Vernon and across lower Westchester.”

 In addition to the co-chairs, alliance members to date include 100 Hispanic Women of Westchester; Big Brothers Big Sisters of FSW; C&F Consulting Engineering, PC; Dan Schorr, LLC; Delbello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP; Forme Medical Center and Urgent Care; Green Grass Real Estate; HV Gateway Chamber; IAFF Local 628 Yonkers Firefighters; IQ Contracting Inc & Associates; Kings Capital Construction; KVL Audio Visual Services Inc.; and LOCAL 3 IBEW / Westchester Central Labor Body.

 Other alliance members include Marx Realty, Cross County Shopping Center; MPac; Nicholas & Lence Communications; Norcom Solutions; NorthMarq Capital, LLC; Progressive Computing Inc.; Robert Martin Company; Signarama; Skyqueen Enterprises; The DeLuca Group; United Black Clergy of Westchester; Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body; Yankwitt LLP; Yonkers Avenue Dental; Yonkers Chamber of Commerce; and Zeidel & Associates PC.

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