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Six Major Casino Companies Battle For Three New York City Casino Licenses

Hard Rock International, Wynn Resorts, Bally's, Las Vegas Sands, Genting, And MGM Resorts Are All Expected To Apply By The Dec. 10 Deadline


With three New York City-area casino licenses set to be awarded in the coming months, there are at least six major casino operators vying for them.

Last March, it was reported that Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corp., and Las Vegas Sands Corp. were all positioning themselves to compete for the licenses. Now, Hard Rock International is making it known that the Seminole Tribe-owned gaming company will also be looking to build a casino in the area.

According to a report from, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen said that on top of its plans to build a property near the Meadowlands Racetrack in northern New Jersey, it also hopes to build a casino in New York City.

“We’re interested in both markets, and if God is good enough to allow us to operate in both, we would be happy to do so,” said Allen.

Initially, Hard Rock was only operating its several Florida casinos but has expanded into other parts of the country over the last several years. It now owns and operates casinos in Florida, Oklahoma, Iowa, California, Indiana, Nevada, Ohio, Mississippi, and Atlantic City. It will also open an Illinois location later this month.

To build a second New Jersey location, voters in the Garden State would need to pass a ballot initiative that would allow for casinos outside Atlantic City. The first attempt in 2016 failed, but it appears that Hard Rock will try again in the coming election cycles.

Regardless, Hard Rock made it clear it will be pursuing one of the three available downstate gaming licenses on the other side of the Hudson River.

In 2013, New York voters authorized the creation of seven nontribal casino licenses. Four were awarded to the already existing upstate casinos and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo put a moratorium on downstate gaming until 2023, but the regulators are beginning to move on those licenses so that properties can be operating by then.

Applications for those three remaining licenses are due to the Gaming Commission by Dec. 10. There are already two properties in the downstate area, Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World Aqueduct Casino in Queens, which are authorized for slot machines.

The MGM Resorts and Genting-owned properties could also receive those licenses, which would allow them to expand into a full-fledged gaming operation. If regulators award two of the licenses to the existing properties, only one would remain for Bally’s, Wynn, Las Vegas Sands, and Hard Rock.

However, regulators are looking to see just how many operators are actually interested in acquiring a license and issued a “request for expressions of interest” from any company seeking to submit an application by the deadline, which could determine which companies ultimately end up with one.

“The Commission is seeking information to develop a better understanding of interest in the unawarded commercial casino licenses, and if there is interest, what factors should be considered by the State in the development of a process to award such licenses,” the Gaming Commission said in the RFI.

According to a report from the New York Post, casino operators have been looking at lots of land near Citi Field in Queens, Belmont Park in Long Island, and an area in Staten Island near the Staten Island Ferry.

Lawmakers representing Manhattan have voiced opposition for any of the state’s new casinos being built there.