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US – New York City Planning Commission to change zoning regs to allow casinos

By - 30 November 2023

New York Mayor Eric Adams wants to introduce new zoning laws to make it easier for casinos to locate in New York City.

With the Gaming Commission able to award up to three casino licenses in the downstate region that includes New York City, Long Island and the northern suburban counties of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam, city officials are keen to change the current zoning law which currently gives no reference to casinos, leaving any winning bid in the city open to litigation.

New York City Planning Commission (CPC) Chair Dan Garodnick has begun the public review process for a zoning text amendment that would clarify where up to three gaming facilities can locate in New York, and link city approvals to the robust state-level licensing process. The zoning change would allow gaming facilities licensed by the New York State Gaming Commission and chosen through a State-defined siting process in certain commercial and manufacturing districts. 

The start of public review on the text amendment comes as the State of New York requests applications for up to three new gaming facility licenses in the downstate region. However, because gaming facilities are not currently permitted under the New York City Zoning Resolution, applicants within the city are at a disadvantage to other downstate applicants – potentially depriving New Yorkers of jobs and economic benefits.  

“As the state considers proposals for casinos downstate, it’s important that we create a level playing field for applicants within New York City so they can compete for this opportunity,” said Dan Garodnick, CPC Chair and Director of the Department of City Planning. “This text amendment would avoid duplicating the state’s rigorous licensing process, which includes local representation on the CAC, while setting up a rational framework for consideration within our zoning.” 

This text amendment, if adopted, would allow gaming facilities in commercial districts C4, C5, C6, C7, and C8 and manufacturing districts M1, M2, and M3 if operating under a state gaming license authorized by legislation enacted by the state in 2022. 

The State Gaming Facility Location Board’s review process begins with a local Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for each application, made up of representatives from the Governor, Mayor, and local State Assemblymember, State Senator, Borough President, and City Councilmember; applications with two-thirds support from a vote of their CAC and with local zoning approval will then be reviewed by the State Gaming Facility Location Board and State Gaming Commission for final selection and licensing.

A citywide zoning text amendment allows the City of New York to consider the regulation of gaming facilities through zoning without duplicating the public input of the State CAC process, and without considering unique ULURP applications from each gaming facility applicant before the State’s process can begin. Some gaming facility applicants may require other proposal-specific approvals, which are not a part of this text amendment. The text amendment will now be referred for review and recommendation by community boards and borough presidents whose jurisdictions include the applicable zoning districts, before returning to the City Planning Commission for a hearing and vote, and if passed, the City Council.

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