City Council Votes to Approve Gaming Facility Text Amendment

Image Credit: Stefan Schweihofer/Wikimedia Commons

On April 18, 2024, the City Council voted to approve the Gaming Facility Text Amendment, which would create a framework within the zoning text to allow for the possible creation of up to three casinos citywide. 

The State’s constitution was amended in 2013 to allow up to seven commercial casinos statewide. Four have been created upstate, but the remaining three have not yet been sited. The State’s Gaming Facility Location Board announced in January 2023 a request for applications to develop and operate gaming facilities in the Downstate region. Several casinos have been proposed across the city, including a few in Midtown, and others in Coney Island, Willet’s Point, Queens and Ferry Point in the Bronx. This text amendment does not automatically approve of these sites, but allows the casino proposals to undergo the state review process. 

For a casino license to be approved by the Gaming Facility Location Board, applicants must get approval from a local Community Advisory Committee, a six-person committee consisting of the Governor, Mayor, and applicable State Senator, Assemblymember, Borough President, and City Council Member. This committee would hold public meetings and need to approve the project by a two-thirds vote. The project would also have to pass the location’s zoning process. Previously, the city’s zoning text did not have a provision that allowed for casino siting. This text amendment creates the framework to allow gaming facilities in certain commercial and manufacturing districts. The framework only applies to the three remaining casino sites; if a future state referendum allowed for more commercial casinos, a new citywide text amendment would need to be approved. The City Planning Commission included a sunset provision of June 30, 2025 to address concerns about what would happen if the three sites were not awarded during this current State-driven process. The City Planning Commission voted to approve the amendment on March 20, 2024. 

At the stated meeting, Council Member Kalman Yeger discussed how the Council had never previously voted on gambling in the city before, and approving this amendment would take away the opportunity for the whole Council to vote on an application in the future; only the local Council Member would be part of the Community Advisory Committee. 

Council Members Kamillah Harris and Crystal Hudson reiterated that this vote was not an endorsement or approval of any or all of the proposed casino sites, but a vote to allow the state’s review process to move forward. Council Member Hudson also pointed out that the three available licenses are for the whole Downstate region, including Long Island and Westchester County, so it isn’t even guaranteed that New York City will get all three licenses. 

Council Member Kristy Marmorato, whose district includes one of the proposed sites, questioned the sidestepping of an existing land use review process and opposed the removal of community board and whole Council review from this process. 

Council Members Christopher Marte and Kalman Yeger expressed disapproval for casinos outright. 

Council Member Vickie Paladino discussed how constituents in her district have been vocal in opposition to the casino proposed for northern Queens. 

The Council’s vote was 35 for and 15 against. The Council Members who represent the areas with proposed casinos were split in their votes. The Council Members who voted against the amendment were: Aviles, Brewer, Caban, Gutierrez, Hanif, Holden, Krishnan, Marmorato, Marte, Mealy, Nurse, Paladino, Sanchez, Vernikov, and Yeger. Council Member Rivera is still on parental leave and did not attend the vote; all other council members voted for the amendment. 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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