Could New York City Get Real Casinos? State Leaders Are Listening

Mr. Cuomo has said he remained “dubious” of any plan to open new casinos before 2023, but he did not outright reject the possibility of expanding casino gambling, giving hope to plans like those backed by Las Vegas Sands, owned by Sheldon Adelson, a prominent supporter of Republican politicians and President Trump. Sands is seeking to open a new luxury casino in New York City, and the company has enlisted the former governor, David Paterson, to advocate on its behalf.

“I think, in an iconic city like New York, to have an iconic structure, would be another, really beautiful, tourism destination,” Mr. Paterson said in an interview, adding that he wished someone had proposed it when he was in office and “we had a $21 billion deficit.”

Mr. Paterson was referring to shortfalls in the state budget, which is due on April 1. Projected income tax revenue is lower, and agreements to create other revenue streams for the state, including legalized marijuana and congestion pricing, are facing opposition. The looming shortfalls led the governor and legislative leaders last week to signal an accord on a so-called pied-à-terre tax, which will target superluxury second homes in New York City.

There is also external pressure from neighboring states, as New Jersey continues to embrace and expand betting, and intrastate support: In Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano signaled support for allowing live-dealer table games at the Empire City casino, which, like Aqueduct, currently only has video lottery terminals, which resemble slot machines. So did the Business Council of Westchester, which said the impact of Empire City “cannot be overstated.”

MGM Resorts, which owns Yonkers Raceway, and the Genting Group, a Malaysian-based conglomerate that runs the Resorts World racino at Aqueduct, have stressed the speed with which they could transform their current operations in Yonkers and at Aqueduct Racetrack into full-fledged casinos, arguing they could be up and running within months, as opposed to the years it might take for an outside company to start from scratch.

“Resorts World is a proven operator ready to move immediately once given the authorization,” said Michael Levoff, a spokesman for the Genting Group, noting that the Aqueduct casino had been operating in Queens for seven years, and generated “over $2 billion in much-needed revenue.”