A casino in Manhattan? Lawmakers consider new gambling licenses

More gambling is now on the table for New York. State lawmakers who are working on a budget deal are considering issuing three new casino gambling licenses for downstate sites. Some are betting it could mean new casinos coming to New York City. 

"I have been saying that even if you don't like gaming, you don't like gambling, you never walk into a casino, you probably benefit by this," state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. said. "The revenue that it brings to the state and certainly educational funds is significant."

Addabbo, a Democrat from Queens, is on the Senate Gaming and Wagering Committee. He supports either building new casinos or adding to the existing ones in Queens and Yonkers.

"We already have it in New York, and all we're doing here is expediting this expansion of downstate gaming," Addabbo said. "This is a process that has to be worked out with us, the Legislature and the Gaming Commission… but this is a significant step for the state."

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Not everyone is ready to welcome casinos to the neighborhood. Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan objects to building a casino in the borough.

"I feel very strongly that a casino does not belong in Manhattan," he said. "I don't know about other parts of the city, but I'm quite certain that it does not belong in Manhattan."

Hard Rock explores sites in NYC for new casino

While some might consider Times Square the perfect place to roll the dice, Gottfried, whose district includes the area, said it's not suitable.

"We've worked very hard for decades to upgrade Times Square and make it a much better place for all New Yorkers than it was only two or three or four decades ago," he said. "I would not want to see casinos moving in and really turning the clock back."

The union representing hotel workers said expanding gaming has the potential to provide thousands of jobs in an industry devastated by the pandemic.

Whether New Yorkers are really ready for a casino in Manhattan — seems like it might be a long shot.