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Businesses and community groups join in push for Empire City casino license

Peter Katz, Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journal, March 5th, 2021

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

The alliance staged a virtual news conference March 4 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 runs out.

“A full-scale casino license for Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts in Yonkers is a no-brainer,” Ravitz said. “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.”

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.

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.

“Empire City further boosts our local economy by purchasing from local businesses, driving visitor traffic and supporting local community organizations,” the letter said. “New Yorkers statewide directly benefit from the more than $300 million Empire City generates for state education each year.

“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.”

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