The Yonkers City Council has passed a resolution urging the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to allow sports betting at the two downstate casinos, MGM’s Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World in Queens.
The move came just three days before Empire City voluntarily closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Both Empire City and Resorts World were among the businesses in New York state subsequently ordered closed as part of the effort to enforce social distancing in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus.
The city council’s resolution was adopted unanimously. It had been sponsored by Council Minority Leader Mike Breen.
The resolution suggested that legalizing sports betting could unlock at least $90 million in taxes that could go directly into educational funding and job growth. It characterized sports betting as a “natural extension of the existing legalized gambling.”
Breen said that New Jersey is currently receiving the benefits of tax revenues from sports betting that could easily be going to New York.
“It’s driving over the bridge, millions of dollars,” Breen said. “That money could have been bet at the MGM casino with some money coming back to the city of Yonkers. It’s not a big thing that this can’t happen. It’s happening at other casinos upstate. We’re not asking for table games. We’re not asking for sports apps, the betting apps, where people can bet on their computers. We’re asking that people can come to the MGM Casino and place a bet on sports rather than driving over the bridge and spending that money in New Jersey.”
Breen said that getting a full casino license for Empire City still needs to be pursued, but the sports betting could be implemented first.
“This isn’t a big deal for the governor to have the casinos, the two downstate casinos, the one in Queens and the one here in Yonkers, be able to handle this,” Breen said. “This is money that could be going into the tax base here and it’s just going right over the bridge into New Jersey and it shouldn’t be happening. I hope they’ll change their minds in Albany. We should tell them and encourage them to change this and get this done right here in Yonkers.”