Downstate licenses

Sands, Hard Rock, Wynn among operators reportedly ramping up efforts for NYC casino projects

Reading time 3:07 min

New York City has been drawing interest from developers and gaming operators seeking to open local casinos, according to reports. Interested parties are reportedly eyeing venues in a number of locations, including Hudson Yards, Times Square, Willets Point near the Mets Citi Field ballpark in Queens, and Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

The reports come as the state Gaming Commission has earned authorization to issue up to three licenses in the downstate region, and as Mayor Eric Adams seeks at least two of them for the city. Real estate giants Related Companies in Hudson Yards and Vornado and SL Green in Times Square are now interested in partnering with casino giants such as Hard Rock, Sands and Wynn for local venues, sources told New York Post.

Sources further told The Post that representatives of the developers and casinos have apprised Adams’ office, as well as Gov. Kathy Hochul, of their preliminary plans. Furthermore, officials from Related Companies -whose Chairman Stephen Ross is a hefty donor to Hochul- have reportedly met with City Hall to discuss a casino proposal over rail tracks on the far West Side.

A rep for Related Companies -the major developer of the West Side’s Hudson Yards- confirmed interest in building a casino in Manhattan to The Post, stating the business is exploring its options. Hudson Yards would offer ample space to build a casino, and feature the transportation infrastructure needed for the facility given the No. 7 and Penn Station stations are nearby.

Gov. Kathy Hochul

Sources have further told New York Post that MLS’ New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and his associates have also spoken to City Hall about potentially building a local casino as well. And in addition, real estate firm Thor Equities has also held discussions on building a casino in Coney Island, according to an insider.

The latter area has also sparked the interest of business mogul John Catsimatidis, who has developed the Ocean Drive waterfront residences along the Coney Island oceanfront. The businessman has expressed support for a casino there, stating it would be “a wonderful thing” for both Coney Island and Brooklyn, potentially bringing “a lot of vigor” to the location.

But in addition to interest from real estate firms and developers, the plans have also naturally gathered interest from US gaming giants. On the casino side, Hard Rock has contributed more than six figures to the governor’s election campaign, according to fund-raising records; and its lobbyists have met with City Hall Chief of Staff Frank Carone, lobbying records accessed by The Post show.

The cited source says executives for the company have discussed a potential partnership with the Mets’ Cohen for a Willets Point casino, a convenient location given accessibility using the No. 7 subway train, the Long Island Rail Road, and the Grand Central Parkway and Long Island Expressway.

Mets Citi Field ballpark in Queens

However, Hard Rock would not be alone in its efforts to bring a new casino to the Big Apple, as Sands CEO Rob Goldstein has also reportedly met with Carone on the matter. If decided to go forward, casino interests would have to woo community support, and win approval from two-thirds of a six-member community advisory board for the area where a casino is proposed.

The representatives would include appointees from the borough president, local state senator, and assembly member and City Council member, as well as the governor and mayor. Unless the proposed venue is on state-owned property, it would also have to secure the blessing of the City Council for its land-use review procedure.

The Post describes the situation as giving community activists and local elected officials plenty of leverage in the selection process. It also reports that state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who represents the Hudson Yards and Times Square neighborhoods, has said he “strongly” opposes a Manhattan casino in concept, claiming insiders who live there don’t want a gaming venue.

Casino giants seeking to enter the New York gaming landscape are expected to face competition from two existing slots parlors at state horse tracks: Resorts World at Aqueduct in Queens and Empire City at Yonkers in Westchester County. The two venues, which have been in business for more than a decade, are set to apply for a full license to expand and offer live table games.

Should those two sites be selected -which have an advantage in the process given speed to market and proven experience- there would be a fight for the remaining license.

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