Building for the Future: Why New York Must Fully Expand Downstate Gaming

By Patrick Purcell | March 24, 2021

We represent over 40,000 hardworking New Yorkers who are employed in the construction industry. Expanding downstate gaming and awarding all three open casino licenses would create much-needed job opportunities in our industry, especially as we look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unionized construction industry can build back our State, but only if the Legislature allows us an opportunity.

New York voters approved full casino gaming in 2013, yet licenses were not made available for downstate gaming until 2023. New York cannot afford to wait two additional years and risk missing out on the jobs and revenue opportunity that awarding all three available licenses would provide.

Awarding all three downstate licenses would create 70,000 local union jobs and training opportunities in the construction industry alone. These additional jobs would create $4.2 billion in annual union construction job wages, which would increase the average construction industry salary to $80,000 per year. Labor is the backbone of New York, and only awarding one or two of the three open licenses would prevent our industry from fully recovering from the pandemic and block progress for our communities.

Additionally, with a large-scale development opportunity, like building a third resort and casino in our backyard, unions across downstate New York can train the next generation through apprenticeship programs, creating a pathway for the future, without a college degree.

These aren’t just one-off jobs to us; they are lifelong careers. Expanding downstate gaming through a competitive process will allow us to put New Yorkers to work where they live.

Furthermore, construction isn’t the only industry that would see an increase in jobs as a result of full downstate gaming expansion. An additional 120,000 direct and indirect jobs in the hospitality and entertainment industries would also be created through awarding all three licenses.

New Yorkers need solutions that help them recover now and spark investment in the future.

Not only will expansion bring jobs, but it will bring critical revenue.

Jobs and revenue are the lifeblood that will keep our City and State moving forward.

Our State’s revenue is projected to fall by $61 billion between 2021 and 2024, and lawmakers must enact solutions that create new jobs and funding, not ones that cut budgets and services. We need solutions that will positively impact New Yorkers for years to come, and our leaders must enact solutions that create the foundations for future success.

Fully expanding downstate gaming would provide New York State with an immediate revenue boost of $1.5 billion in upfront licensing fees along with $900 million of reoccurring annual revenue.

This additional revenue would help fund essential programs and services beyond infrastructure and transportation that have also been impacted by the economic effects of this pandemic. Fully expanding downstate gaming would help prevent further cuts to these essential sectors that are key to our State’s future successes.

It’s time our lawmakers help us rebuild our State. Albany should expand downstate gaming through an open and transparent process today.

Patrick Purcell is Executive Director of New York State Laborers’-Employers’ Cooperation & Education Trust