LIA: Long Island needs to get in the game


New York City, Westchester and the Hudson Valley are actively preparing to compete for an economically transformative prize that is guaranteed to inject local tax jurisdictions with hundreds of millions of dollars every year, create thousands of quality union-jobs, and boost small business opportunities exponentially. It’s the state’s competition for one of the three downstate full-gaming licenses.  The question is – why isn’t Long Island competing?

The Long Island economy has proven resilient, but it is still recovering from the impact of COVID. We aren’t out of the woods yet. Our region, like the rest of the country, faces steep challenges such as global inflation, supply chain issues and fuel costs. We all know, affordability – both for our residents and our businesses – is an existential crisis we must address. We have some of the highest property taxes in the nation and this past May, the median prices of homes in both counties saw substantial increases from the previous year. Nassau County saw an increase of 8% and Suffolk County 11.2%. This is making it even more difficult for families to make ends meet in an already high-cost area.

New York State has taken steps to help temper property tax; prioritizing school aid in recent years, a property tax cap, and infrastructure investments designed to generate economic growth. The federal government infused billions of federal Covid relief dollars, which have been vital to stabilizing local budgets. However, the federal infusion of dollars is ending, the extreme pressure on municipal budgets is returning and formidable headwinds remain.

As a region, we need to explore new revenue generating ideas. The state is handing us that opportunity with an imminent Request for Proposals for three downstate casino licenses, which will generate billions of dollars in new revenue for the state.  Long Island should compete. If we win a license, 20% of the state revenues will go directly to our region – divided between the counties and host community.  Done right, that will mean between $100-200 MILLION per year of direct funds to our municipalities.

With just 1,000 Video Lottery Terminals (VLT’s), Jake’s 58 Casino Hotel in Islandia’s success has demonstrated that gaming can provide outsized economic impacts – lowering taxes for Islandia residents and adding millions to county and village tax rolls. Imagine the economic potential of a fully licensed regional entertainment resort casino, like the world-class facility recently built outside of Boston. That property has become an international destination and is completely transforming the economy of a once struggling community.  A Massachusetts analysis of the construction of this type of facility alone found that every $1.55 of construction spending created about $1 of additional economic activity  and every in-state job (over 2,500 construction jobs for the project) created another 0.85 jobs in the state.

An entertainment and full-casino venue on Long Island would also generate thousands of post-construction permanent quality-union jobs, not to mention the thousands of construction jobs that stem from a multi-billion-dollar construction project. In addition, siting a regional gaming facility on Long Island could also result in new training programs at our community colleges, as well as more economic opportunities for area small businesses such as dry cleaners, bakeries, delis and professional services like accounting. In short, this would transform our economy and spur expansive growth.

Colossal affordability issues call for big solutions. This is why New York City, Westchester and the Hudson Valley are all actively supporting and competing for the new full-gaming licenses and the hundreds of millions of dollars in recurring revenue and thousands of new jobs that will come with it.

As Long Islanders, we appreciate and value our safe streets, quality education, beautiful beaches and parks, and strong infrastructure.  We can preserve and enhance the things that make our region so special while gaining new opportunities to  address our high cost of living and overall affordability by pursuing a full-gaming license; a game changer that likely has no substitute.

Let’s work with a respected, reputable and experienced casino operator to develop a world-class destination resort, entertainment, and gaming experience that we are proud to say is on Long Island and compete for a once in a lifetime economic boon for our region.  Long Island, let’s get in the game.

John Durso is president of Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO & RWDSU Local 338. Matthew Cohen, is president & CEO of the Long Island Association.





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