Bally’s New York Casino Suffers Election Day Setback as Republican Wins Bronx Seat

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The Bally’s Corporation wants to build a casino resort at the Ferry Point Golf Links in the Bronx, but last week’s election could damper those prospects.

Kristy Marmorato (R) will join the New York Council representing the Bronx’s District 13 on Jan. 1, 2024. Marmorato is opposed to allowing Bally’s Corporation to build an integrated casino resort at the Ferry Links golf course. (Image: CBS News)

Rhode Island-based Bally’s is making a big bet on winning one of the three downstate casino licenses New York officials are expected to grant next year. Bally’s has suggested constructing an integrated resort on the grounds of its Bally’s Golf Links at Ferry Point.

Kristy Marmorato, 45, shocked the borough last week when she became the first Republican in four decades to win a New York City Council seat representing the Bronx. Marmorato upset incumbent Marjorie Velasquez in District 13.

Marmorato and Velasquez have differing views on whether a casino in the Bronx is a good idea. While Velasquez supports the Bally’s idea, Marmorato opposes the initiative.

I’m opposed to the casino,” Marmorato said before the November 7 election. “We have the highest rate of asthma in the city, and this is going to be an environmental nightmare.”

Come January when she replaces Velasquez, Marmorato will become just the seventh Republican on the 51-member New York City Council.

Ferry Links Site

The Ferry Links Golf Course was built atop a former landfill that was active until the mid-1960s. The property was transferred to the New York City Parks Department for redevelopment, but for decades sat vacant.

In 2000 during Rudy Giuliani’s mayorship, a plan was hatched to build a golf course on the 220-acre site. Famed golfer Jack Nicklaus was contracted to design the 18-hole course.

The project suffered numerous delays, with most stemming from environmental concerns like methane gas rising from the old landfill. The city spent millions of dollars over the next decade trying to clean up the site for redevelopment.

Nicklaus’ design finally started coming to reality in 2011 when construction began. During this time, New York gave the Trump Organization a lease to operate the course.

Along with annual lease payments, the company owned by former President Donald Trump agreed to build a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse and weddings and events facility.

The Trump Organization opened the Ferry Links golf course in 2015 and managed the facility until this year when Bally’s acquired the lease for a staggering $60 million. Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump said the company had “no prior intention of selling” the management rights, but Bally’s came in with an “exceptional offer.”

Bally’s Support Dwindles

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board is tasked with deciding which applicants receive the three coveted downstate licenses. The odds favor MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World New York City in Queens, both of which are currently racinos that offer video lottery terminals but no live dealer table games or sports betting.

Seven to 10 bids are expected to compete for the third and final gaming license. For a casino bid to qualify for review, the application needs support from the applicable Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

For the Bally’s casino pitch, the Bronx’s CAC consists of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D), New York State Sen. Nathalia Fernandez (D-District 34), Assemblyman Kenny Burgos (D-District 85), and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson. The sixth and final seat is held by the applicable city councilmember, which come January 1 will be Republican Marmorato.

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