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With NYC in a Housing Crisis, Adams Administration Takes Bold Step of Removing Bureaucratic Hurdles So Developers Can Build More Casinos

The administration doesn't want to gamble with a casino developer's shot at a NYC gambling house, and more links for your Tuesday.

9:46 AM EST on November 28, 2023

An exterior shot of Resort World Casino in Queens.

Resorts World Queens, from the parking lot (Hell Gate)

With New York City still firmly in the grip of a debilitating housing crisis, the Adams administration has proposed bold new zoning regulations that would cut red tape and remove bureaucratic hurdles—for casino developers.

In anticipation of up to three new casino licenses being issued downstate, the City put out a zoning proposal that would essentially remove the biggest municipal check on the creation of new gambling houses. Crain's reported that the proposed language, which the Department of City Planning released on the Friday after Thanksgiving, would exempt casinos from the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). ULURP normally takes at least two to three years, allows for a substantial amount of community input, and essentially gives the local councilmember veto power. 

"If you take away ULURP, you take away the loaded gun," one casino lobbyist remarked earlier this year. An urban planner told Crain's he was "shocked" by the City's proposal.

The Adams administration and the people who are paid handsomely to lobby for one of these casino licenses—and there are many of them diving into this "petri dish of corruption"—argue that the state-run bidding process to obtain one of the licenses is robust enough, and will include local elected officials anyway. Wouldn't ULURP just be redundant? "What we are proposing will create an even playing field for these facilities as they make their case for the economic benefits they aim to bring to New York City," City Planning commissioner Dan Garodnick said.

Yes, ULURP takes way too long and arguably discourages development, but these problems are felt most acutely when we're trying to address our most dire need right now: housing. On that front, the Adams administration has proposed minor changes to ULURP, namely, making the pre-certification process smoother. But for casinos, ULURP is apparently a velvet rope to be lifted up whenever promises of "good jobs" and "education revenue" are flashed at the door. 

The whole casino bidding process will likely take at least another year, perhaps two, and the City Council will have to weigh in on the Adams administration's zoning proposal, but given they are the ones who prompted this change in the first place, it's unlikely they will ask the Planning Department to make any major tweaks.

Meanwhile, last month, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released his monthly report on the state's gaming revenues, which included his usual disclaimers: Casinos consistently fail to live up to their job and revenue projections, and just $1 of every $8 the state spends on education comes from gambling. (Not mentioned in the report, but clear enough: Casinos make the people who own them a shitload of money.) 

"With three new commercial casinos expected," DiNapoli wrote, "careful analysis should be done to ensure projections of revenues and economic benefits are reasonable and attainable."

These links are a safe bet:

  • Students at Hillcrest High School in Queens staged a protest in support of Palestinians after one of their teachers attended a pro-Israel rally. The NY Post reported on it as if it was a "riot," and not, you know, hundreds of teenagers being teenagers, and then the students, many of whom are Muslim, became the targets of online harassment campaigns. Schools Chancellor David Banks, himself a Hillcrest graduate, visited the school in an attempt to restore calm, and several students received suspensions. "It was meant to be a peaceful protest from the very beginning," one student who helped plan the action told Gothamist. "But some of these students lack maturity."
  • Two women have been arrested and charged with misdemeanors after a confrontation with a woman who began filming them while they ripped down posters of Israeli hostages; the Post's coverage treats them like they were charged with major felonies, and includes video footage of one of their "perp walks."
  • A pro-car activist who has appeared in previous Hell Gate coverage was arrested at the opening of an open street earlier this month and ordered to stay away from Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.
  • Meanwhile, a 77-year-old woman was killed after being struck by the driver of a dump truck in Midwood on Monday.
  • Jabar Walker and Wayne Gardine, who were convicted of separate murders in the 1990s and spent decades in prison, were both exonerated on Monday; Walker was set free following a court hearing, while Gardine remains in ICE custody because he was born in Jamaica.
  • The illegal weed store crackdown will continue, Mayor Adams says.
  • "Off-duty NYPD officer attacked girlfriend five times in five months, knocked her unconscious: prosecutors"
  • Chris Christie must stay in this race, no matter what kind of nickname Trump comes up with.
  • Cuomo for mayor? Eric Adams doesn't think so.
  • Errol Louis has a nice roundup of NYC charities to give to this season.
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