BETS OFF, BETS ON?: National Urban League and resort operator want to bring casinos downstate

Stephon Johnson | 9/19/2019, 12:20 p.m.
A potential economic and employment boon for Black New Yorkers might be through casinos. However, the governor has told everyone ...
Casino/gambling Pixabay

A potential economic and employment boon for Black New Yorkers might be through casinos. However, the governor has told everyone to “pump the brakes.”

The National Urban League and the Las Vegas Sands corporation have created a partnership with the goal of bringing gaming downstate. But they’ll have to get through New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo first.

“I look forward to working with Sands to make an impact on the communities that have far too often been left out of the progress and opportunities in this state,” stated Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “The expansion of downstate gaming will not only bring much needed revenue to the state to fund critical services, but it will provide thousands of new jobs and training programs to New York.”

Some of the leaders backing this partnership include Hazel Duke of the NAACP New York State Conference, the Rev. Clinton Miller of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church, and James Heyliger of the Association of Minority Enterprise of New York.

Partnering to help develop gaming resorts isn’t anything new for the Urban League and Las Vegas Sands said former New York Governor, Senior Vice President and Special Advisor to the President and CEO at Las Vegas Sands David Paterson.

“The Sands corporation has a relationship with the Urban League in Las Vegas and is familiar with the Urban League’s work in a couple of other things, particularly on minority business enterprise,” said Paterson, who joined the push for downstate casinos in July. “What impressed me about them is that they get to know the people, their priorities and how things work. They don’t go into a place, throw some dollars and try to make things happen.”

In a report, Las Vegas Sands outlined the potential economic and social benefits of bringing an integrated resort downstate, including “long-term, sustainable revenue of billions of dollars while the resorts will provide an estimated 15,000 permanent union jobs, and 15,000 union construction jobs.” Sands officials said it would also bring in $1.5 billion in licensing fees.

According to those involved, Sands has promised to develop plans for community outreach and local job training (including a potential partnership with the New York City Housing Authority), education programs (modeled after the partnership with Sands and the University of Nevada Las Vegas), second chance hiring and initiatives involving minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs).

“They’re willing to do extensive job training in Black and Brown communities to make sure that wherever the casino ultimately goes, that the people that work there reflect what the City of New York looks like and the people who live here,” said Minister and founder of the Arc of Justice Kirsten Foy. “It opens up a process to communities. A process ultimately worth billions of dollars that have been historically locked out of them.”

Foy continued, “Major multi-billion development deals do not particularly prioritize investment partnerships and collaboration with Black and Brown and women-owned businesses. What we’re seeing with Sands and the National Urban League is an opportunity to bring what could potentially be worth billions in construction and ensuring jobs and contracts and opportunities to the Black and Brown community in New York.”