Could live poker be the answer to New York’s economic downswing?


It’s not sensationalizing to suggest that New York is in dire need of an economic shot in the arm. So the suggestion this week that the reopening of casinos could be the one-armed bandit that could come to the rescue of the Big Apple is a fascinating one.

From live poker to table games, casinos generate money and New York, at the epicentre of a major COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the year, suffering as many deaths from Coronavirus as some European countries, is in desperate need of economic recovery.

As our own Erik Gibbs reported last week, New York’s citizens have been less than happy with this, and were threatening to march in protest at the state of play.

As reported by the Daily Gazette, that’s exactly what happened, as New Yorkers marched on State Capitol building in Albany to ask Governor Cuomo to open up the lucrative areas of business.

The Mid Hudson News have since published an article revealing the possible change of mind with the powers that be.

The current budget means that New York is seriously struggling for funds and Senator James Skoufis may be looking at accelerating the casino licenses currently buried on the in-pile of offices in New York City.

Casinos could bring in a lot of money, and live poker returning to New York would be a massive coup if it is to happen. With federal help not looking like being forthcoming, with the state often a key Democratic win and Trump ramping up his own Presidential campaign at the expense of anything else in order to secure four more years, Skoufis told the newspaper that it could be agreed as early as this year or early 2021.

“The proposal would be to accelerate the license to 2020, or early 2021,” he said. “We would get those two $500 million one-shots – a billion dollars between the two licenses. The casinos themselves, their openings, would not be accelerated. They would still open, as the schedule stands now, in 2023 but we would accelerate the licensing payments that are associated.” 

That could easily change if things stay as they are right now and NYC needs the money. Casinos make money and live poker coming back to a City that is famed for producing tough cookies could be great for the game. Players such as Bryn Kenney who hail from the East coast have often had to travel west to Las Vegas to truly take advantage of America’s need for playing poker.

It’s a countrywide obsession, and a worldwide game. New York needs to be a part of it, and players would love to take a bite of the Big Apple, on a more local scale at first but beyond that in larger more national and international tournaments.

Last year saw MGM Resorts buy up a couple of valuable properties in New York, with the Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway both bought for a collective $850 million. Full gambling licenses need ironing out, but the potential for fast-tracking such a project clearly appeals. It’s not quite Marty and Wendy Byrde in Ozark, at least not yet, but it could be something that moves as quick, if not quite in as deadly a fashion.

With Governor Cuomo keeping New York’s four main casinos closed since mid-March due to COVID-19, so far the temptation to relent for economic reasons could be the driving force behind New York ramping up the rebuilding of one of its most important revenue streams in the near future.

When we’ll see poker players in seats in The Big Apple remains to be seen, but the movements behind the scenes suggest that New York may not be light years behind Las Vegas for very long if their Senator gets his way.