Proposed Zoning Changes Would Significantly Expand Eligible Sites for Casinos

Eligible locations for the three casino licenses being offered through a New York State-led process that several developers are vying for could significantly increase in numbers if recently proposed zoning changes by Mayor Adams’ administration are approved. While the proposal intended to be more accommodating to the gambling industry restricts casinos in residential areas, they would be allowed in “any medium- to high-density commercial district citywide. Since “two of the three licenses are expected to go to existing racetrack casinos in Queens and Yonkers, just one license appears to be genuinely up for grabs among the contenders in the city and Nassau County. In support of the zoning proposal, “Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said last month that passing the plan will ensure the city’s applicants are not at a ‘competitive disadvantage’ compared to other downstate bidders.” However, despite still requiring that casino proposals go through the “state’s monthslong review that includes binding votes by six-person councils composed of local officials,” the open-ended language of the proposed zoning changes released “quietly just after Thanksgiving” has sparked concerns since it “puts no restrictions on casinos’ size and allows developers to tack on ‘related’ facilities such as hotels and restaurants.” The zoning changes as currently written cede all planning power that the city has in terms of location or structure design according to critics, while allowing things that would not otherwise be permitted without any City Planning oversight by eliminating the city’s own monthslong Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).