Wynn CEO Confirms Company Is Interested In New York Casino License

Written By Derek Helling on May 18, 2022
Could Wynn open a New York casino?

When Craig Billings fielded a question about the possibility of a Wynn casino New York on the company’s most recent earnings call, his short answer came in the affirmative. The Wynn Resorts CEO‘s answer was equivalent to a retort of “yeah, why wouldn’t we be?”

Billings didn’t reveal much about a potential bid for a brick-and-mortar casino license in the state. That is no reason to believe the company isn’t serious about competing for a license, though.

Wynn casino New York in the works?

On May 11, UBS analyst Robin Farley posed the question to Billings of whether Wynn is interested in a New York casino license. The answer was succinct.

“Thanks, Robin,” Billings replied. “Yes, we are interested in any gateway city that is conducive to the scale and quality of development that Wynn Resorts does. So we are interested in New York, and we are active there but not in a position yet to talk about anything in particular.”

Dissecting Billings’ comments in this context requires some information. Readers should note that nothing guarantees that any of the new casinos will occupy space in New York City.

It is true that Resorts World NYC in Jamaica (Queens) has a tremendous headstart on other license bidders. The same goes for Empire Cit y Casino in Yonkers. It does not guarantee either a license, though.

It’s still possible that the third license could go to an operator whose bid is for Long Island. With that in mind, there are other things to note about Billings’ comment.

How active is active for Wynn Resorts?

Billings didn’t offer any clarification for what he meant when he said Wynn Resorts is “active there.” Given his following sentence, he might not have offered any further information even if Farley had pressed him.

There are some probable actions Wynn has or is taking, though. That likely includes:

  • Assessing resources to determine bid amount
  • Preliminary conversations with stakeholders
  • Scouting out possible locations

New York law establishes a point system for awarding casino licenses. Part of that point system is how much each bidder is willing to pay for the license. The reserve for that bidding starts at $500 million for at least a 10-year period and no less than 25% of slot play plus 10% of all other gaming revenue.

As far as potential stakeholders go, who Wynn needs to talk to will vary depending on what sites it is looking at. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is a must. Beyond that, though, location will determine everything.

So far, there have been no rumors of where Wynn might be scouting. That’s probably part of the reason why Billings is not yet ready to talk about anything in particular.

Local sentiments, competing NY casino bids affect location choices

There’s technically no reason two or more competing bids for a license couldn’t feature the same location. As municipal and state leaders in the respective neighborhoods will have some say in the licensing process, their sentiments could affect the number of options available to Wynn.

If a competitor has success in securing the support of influential people in one area, that likely closed Wynn’s window of opportunity there. For instance, the Las Vegas Sands Co. has reportedly had conversations about sites in Queens.

While leaders in Manhattan have been oppositional to a casino there, a state lawmaker from the Bronx appears hospitable. There’s no indication Wynn or any of the other bidders have had any contact with her yet, though.

Like Billings, employees of all potential bidders are playing things pretty close to the vest when it comes to their activity, though. That includes Hard Rock, which has only ruled out its New York City hotel as a potential site.

Billings’ comment is no guarantee that Wynn Resorts will actually submit a bid. It is a confirmation that Wynn sees a New York casino license as a great opportunity and is at least kicking the tires, though.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of Playin USA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in th e gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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