New York Casinos Could Soon Be Permitted to Hire Convicted Felons

Posted on: December 8, 2022, 01:40h. 

Last updated on: December 8, 2022, 01:40h.

New York casinos upstate and the two racinos downstate say they are not fielding enough applications from interested workers, but help could soon be on the way.

New York casinos felony criminal employment
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul received legislation this week that seeks to qualify certain convicted felons to work inside state commercial casinos. New York’s gaming industry is set to expand beginning next year with the consideration of downstate casinos. (Image: The New York Times)

New York law prohibits anyone with a felony conviction on their criminal record from gaining employment in the state’s commercial gaming industry. State lawmakers want to terminate that condition.

In June, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that would qualify felony convicts for employment in the state’s commercial gaming industry. The legislation — Senate Bill 1443B — was introduced by state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens). Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) championed the statute in the Assembly.

The measure received strong bipartisan support. The Assembly voted 110 to 34 in favor of SB1443B, while the Senate approved the statute with a 56-7 vote.

Addabbo chairs the New York Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. Pretlow spearheads the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has not yet said whether she intends to sign the measure. The bill was only forwarded to the governor this week.

Criminals Can Apply

Addabbo and Pretlow’s gaming employment bill seeks to remove hiring hurdles for the state’s four upstate commercial casinos and the two downstate racino venues where only video lottery terminals and electronic table games operate. The statute, if signed by Hochul, would allow more New Yorkers to consider jobs in the gaming sector.

No casino key employee license shall be denied solely on the basis of a conviction,” SB1443B reads. The mandate qualifies former criminals only if the applicant has “affirmatively demonstrated rehabilitation.”

The New York State Gaming Commission would still retain the authority to deny a key employee license in part because of an applicant’s criminal past. The gaming employment statute also continues to prevent criminals who have been convicted of felony theft, fraud, perjury, and/or embezzlement from being allowed to work in the state commercial gaming industry.

Thousands of Jobs Forthcoming

New York is nearing the end of a 10-year moratorium that only allowed full-scale casinos to operate upstate outside of New York City’s five boroughs, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Long Island. The state’s 2013 casino act allowed for four upstate and three downstate casino properties.

Next year, New York will begin fielding full-scale casino bids from interested developers. MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World New York City in Queens — currently relegated as racinos that are prevented from operating live dealer table games, Las Vegas-style slot machines, and retail sports betting — are the betting front-runners for two of the casino licensing opportunities.

MGM said last month it would look to hire about 2,500 additional workers in Yonkers should its property receive one of the downstate casino licenses. Resorts World would also be expected to hire thousands of additional workers to handle the resort’s expanded footprint should it receive a casino concession.

The third and final remaining license is where a fiercely competitive bidding process will ensue. The bidding war will include some of New York’s richest and most powerful billionaires, including Mets owner Steve Cohen, the Yankees’ Steinbrenner family, Stephen Ross, and Jay Z.

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