New York State Senator James Skoufis (D-Cornwall) has urged his fellow lawmakers to expedite the licensing process for casinos in New York City, as a way of recouping some of the state’s losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Skoufis noted that the current tally for COVID-19’s impact on the budget New York State is a deficit of $13 billion, which he said lawmakers must find ways to remedy soon.
Skoufis is adamant that the massive budget issues New York State is facing will require bold and creative solutions from its lawmakers. Skoufis also said that New York’s cash flow problems are so significant as to threaten the state’s entire operation.
The senator’s proposal to expedite casino licenses could potentially bring up to $1 billion for New York State. Skoufis said that, if the state can promise that the licenses would be ready by late-2020 or early 2021, there will likely be at least two casino operators ready to pony up the $500 million license fees.
Despite Skoufis’ push to bring the issuance of the licenses closer, he was still in agreement that casinos in New York will still have to adhere to the original opening date of 2023.
Lack of Federal Support Hurts NY
Many New York residents, especially casino workers have appealed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to re-open casinos. No word has yet been received on when Cuomo might decide to do so.
New York is reportedly still mulling over their options before considering Skoufis’ plan. Yet another hurdle facing New York lawmakers is the continuing lack of federal assistance for the state. Representatives from New York argued that COVID-19 must be treated as a national disaster, which would merit financial support from the federal government.
New York Readying for Widespread Budget Cuts
Industry analysts state that New York legislators are still hoping that the federal government steps in soon to provide them stimulus funds. Failure to receive those funds will likely lead to deep budget cuts for the state.
New York State will have to look at ways of coming up with $10 billion to $13 billion to balance their budget. This figure already accounts for a number of budget cuts across the board, such as a 20% cut for local government units, schools, and hospitals. New York lawmakers are reportedly also considering a tax hike for locals who earn more than $5 million annually.
We will have to wait and see if lawmakers decide to go with Senator Skoufis’s proposal.