The casino giant Bally’s is getting into the high-stakes race for a downstate New York gaming license — and local politicians with key influence over the plans are already warm to the idea.
The firm is proposing a casino in the Bronx, on public parkland at Ferry Point that’s currently home to the Trump Organization’s golf course. Bally’s has reached a deal with the firm — which has a lease with the city — to take over 17 acres of the property for the plan, which was first reported by the New York Post.
That agreement would still need the green light from the city parks department. And since the site is public parkland — like the expected bid from Steve Cohen at Citi Field — a casino bid would also need state legislation to authorize new uses there, according to a person with knowledge of the proposal.
Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, one of the state lawmakers who represents the area around the site, said he wants to hear more local input, but is “definitely open to sponsoring a bill to make an accommodation here.”
“There would be great economic activity and advantages that might come out of a project like this,” he said in an interview. “It will provide for many, many jobs — good paying jobs — for Bronx residents.”
State Sen. Nathalia Fernandez said in a statement that the project “could be a great economic opportunity for the Bronx creating many high paying jobs as well as benefiting small businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods.” But she also noted the importance of local input and ensuring the project meets environmental standards, and said she wants to see “a clear plan to address problem gambling.”
Another local politician with sway over the project, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, told the Post a potential casino at the site would be “really great for The Bronx.”
Benedetto, Fernandez and Velázquez — along with Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, the mayor and the governor — will have appointees on a six-person community advisory committee that will form around each casino proposal and need to affirm sufficient local support before the bids can advance.
The proposal for the 17-acre site, only 10 of which would be needed for the actual casino, is also expected to include housing and a hotel. The person with knowledge of Bally’s plans said there are a range of community benefits being discussed as part of the prospective bid, including public parks, youth sports fields, hiking trails and a farmer’s market.
Two existing “racinos” — Genting’s Resorts World in Queens and MGM’s Empire City in Yonkers — are considered the frontrunners to win two of the three available licenses. Other proposals that have been announced or are expected in the crowded race include bids at Hudson Yards and in Times Square in Manhattan, at Coney Island in Brooklyn, at Citi Field in Queens and at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
IT’S MONDAY: New York Playbook PM is back for a new 2023 run to get you through budget talks at the state Capitol and more. Stay with us each afternoon as we keep you updated on the latest New York news in Albany, City Hall and beyond. Thanks for reading!
HOCHUL ON LASALLE: Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday it was news to her when Senate Republicans sued Thursday to try to force a floor vote on the nomination of her chief judge pick, Hector LaSalle.
But doesn’t mean she disagrees with the thrust of the lawsuit, which claims the Senate Judiciary Committee’s rejection of his nomination shouldn’t be the end of his consideration.
“It was unexpected to see them file a lawsuit,” she told reporters in Rochester. “But I have said all along, I still stand strongly behind the premise that the constitution of the state of New York requires that the Senate consider a nomination from the governor. So however that gets to the floor. The Senate can still do it on their own. They have that option. We hope it gets resolved soon.” — Joseph Spector
DEFENDING HOUSING PLAN: Hochul also told reporters after detailing her budget plans during the Rochester that her proposal to require 800,000 new homes outside of New York City is critical to bringing down the high cost of living in the state — despite steep opposition from the suburbs, as POLITICO’s Janaki Chadha detailed over the weekend.
The Democratic governor said upstate communities would only need to increase their housing stock by 1 percent over three years, while the New York City suburbs would have to do so over by 3 percent over the same period.
“Right now, we have a housing crisis,” she said. “We have a crisis where there is not enough housing, and the prices are going way too high. And that’s a recipe for disaster when we’re trying to stimulate economic growth. People need a place to live.” — Joseph Spector
HEARING PROTESTERS: Wielding signs that read “END THE AIDS EPIDEMIC,” protesters from the statewide advocacy organization VOCAL-NY briefly disrupted Monday’s joint legislative budget hearing on human services with shouts of “housing is health care.”
In response to a lawmaker inviting them to testify, one protester said, “We have testified for years about the need for rest-of-state AIDS housing outside of the five boroughs. There are thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV who are housing insecure.”
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel Tietz, who had been mid-testimony, resumed by expressing his “gratitude” for their activism. — Maya Kaufman
WOKENESS AND ADAMS: Mayor Eric Adams has no qualms about lacing into his far-left critics, accusing them of spouting unrealistic ideals from an ivory tower. On Monday, one of the city’s leading progressives — a term Adams said has been “hijacked” — pushed back.
City Comptroller Brad Lander called it “ridiculous” for people who throw punches about “wokeness” to think they’ll land with the intended audience. Without naming Adams, Lander argued the city’s progressives are more diverse than their critics allow and are pushing for sensible and humane policies. “Now, as I understand it, of the 19 folks who are now members of the new and strengthened [City Council] Progressive Caucus, I think there’s only one white member remaining,” Lander said Monday morning. Last week, 15 Council members left the Progressive Caucus after refusing to support a statement of principles that includes shrinking the NYPD. — Sally Goldenberg
BONUS: Last week, U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman expounded on the merits of “wokeness” and, while also not calling out Adams by name, wagged a finger at any fellow Democrat using the term as a pejorative. — h/t Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max
U-HAUL RAMPAGE: NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a press conference there is no indication as of Monday afternoon of terrorism involvement in the “violent rampage” in Brooklyn, where a U-haul driver left eight people injured.
The victims in the crashes included one officer and seven civilians, two of which are in critical condition in local hospitals, she said. “What we saw today is a clear example why, every moment of every day, the NYPD must be prepared for every possibility,” she said. — Zachary Schermele
ASYLUM SEEKERS: Quebec officials have urged New York to stop providing assistance to migrants who have been using an unofficial crossing point just north of Plattsburgh, N.Y., to enter Canada and claim asylum, according to a report in the New York Post. “Any form of assistance to migrants crossing the border where it is strictly forbidden to do so should stop immediately,” a spokesperson for Quebec Premier Francois Legault said. “We understand that the situation of migrants in New York poses major challenges, but the situation in Quebec and particularly in Montreal is even worse and constitutes an important humanitarian issue.” — Joe Anuta
MILLER TIME: City Hall spent $5 million last year on furniture from high-end designer Herman Miller, the Daily News reports, an expenditure that comes as Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly touted his fiscal prudence. While some lawmakers told the News the chic furnishing presented a bad look as the administration warns of choppy fiscal waters ahead, City Hall officials countered that the initial contract was inked in 2019, and Herman Miller offered the best deal. — Joe Anuta
— Voting has begun in the race to crown Staten Island’s best bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich. (Staten Island Advance)
— New Yorkers are spending $4,661 less annually near their offices, a new report has found. (Gothamist)
— The city has paid more than $500 million to settle crash claims involving city vehicles, the city comptroller writes in a new report. (Bloomberg)
— While the fight against illegal marijuana sales continues, a new recreational marijuana dispensary opens, the third in New York City. (ABC7 New York)