Bally’s, Sands, Wynn Eye New York City Casino License

By | March 10, 2021

Bally’s (NYSE:BALY), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) are reportedly heating up a competition to land a single permit for a New York City casino — an effort Albany lawmakers could mull as soon as April.

New York casino
Times Square in New York City. Three companies, including Bally’s, are reportedly competing for a New York City casino license. (Image: NY Daily News)

Sands isn’t a new name in the Big Apple speculation as the company has long been rumored to be interested in bringing an integrated resort to the largest US city and perhaps Texas. Last week, the company announced the sale of its Las Vegas assets, including the Venetian, for $6.25 billion, stoking speculation that it will turn its domestic efforts to New York and Texas. Experts believe the operator could find the environment more hospitable in the northeast than in Texas.

The New York Post reported late Tuesday that the three gaming companies are working behind the scenes to win a license for a New York City-area gaming venue.

Efforts have included talking to potential developer partners and wooing local politicians for support,” the Post reports, citing unidentified sources.

Last week’s Las Vegas divestment by LVS prompted some analysts to opine that the largest domestic gaming company would use the cash to focus on Asia, but Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein told the Post the operator has New York on its radar.

Why New York Casino Competition Will Be Intense

With its status as the biggest US city and train ride proximity to other nearby states, New York makes for an obvious, desirable destination for gaming companies. There are, however, other reasons why this competition will be hot.

Policymakers in the state are slated to award three permits for traditional casinos, but two are reserved for established venues already offering slots. Those are MGM Resorts International’s Empire City in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World New York City in Queens. Due to a moratorium that expires in 2023, those properties aren’t currently allowed to offer table games.

Translation: Bally’s, LVS and Wynn are competing for a single license. Rhode Island-based Bally’s and Wynn did not confirm to the Post that they are in fact participants in the New York casino competition.

How Rivals Stack Up

One source told the Post that Manhattan is almost certainly as a location for a gaming venue and Nassau and Westchester counties present political challenges. That means the winning operator will likely have to settle for an outer borough, such as Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens.

As for the lay of the land for individual operators, LVS has the financial resources to make the project happen without subsidies from the state and city — a potentially appealing trait at a time when New York’s finances are ailing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wynn is a credible contender due to its reputation for developing some of the industry’s most plush resorts and drawing an affluent clientele. The operator also has an East Coast footprint via Encore Boston Harbor.

Bally’s is the possible wildcard of the trio. It’s the smallest of the three companies, but it’s also one of the most prolific deal makers in the industry.

With two venues in Rhode Island and the recent acquisition of its namesake venue on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the company is an established operator in the Northeast. Additionally, it has the backing of hedge fund Standard General — its largest shareholder — meaning it may have avenues to finance a New York City casino without needing government assistance.

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