Doorway Opens Wider for a NYC Casino After City Council Greenlight

A vote of 35-15 in favor of a zoning change in New York City by the city council opens the door to the possibility of a casino being constructed in the five boroughs. Current zoning in the city does not allow for casinos, but the proposed changes that will legalize the gambling centers in commercial districts and manufacturing area is intended to ensure that the nine city contenders are not at a competitive disadvantage to casino proposals on Long Island or upstate New York. The zoning changes will “sunset” June 2025 and only apply to the nine known contenders, creating a stopgap measure added last month by the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) to address concerns of a potential floodgate to the opening of more casinos in future years. Other concerns raised back in November focused on the “open-ended language of the proposed zoning changes released at the time since it “puts no restrictions on casinos’ size and allows developers to tack on ‘related’ facilities such as hotels and restaurants.” The results of the city council vote are in contrast with votes on the neighborhood level where nineteen community boards voted against the casino changes in recent months with only four voting in favor, while 30 other community boards opted against voting at all. While the zoning change eliminates the need for all city-based casino proposals to go through its monthslong Uniform Land Use Procedure (ULURP), it relinquishes control over the casino process from the city to the state-led process, local feedback is already built-in through the community advisory councils that will hold binding votes on every casino proposal.