MLB’s New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is allegedly betting big on a Queens casino, local media reports. The businessman has reportedly spent “a fortune” trying to score government support to build a gambling venue next to Citi Field, and is now banking on a nearby soccer stadium project to help him reach his goal.
Insiders told the New York Post that the mogul believes a $780 million mixed-used development project announced Wednesday by city officials – which includes a 25,000-seat stadium for the New York City Football Club, a hotel, and 2,500 units of affordable housing – is a big win for his expected bid to secure one of three downstate casino licenses to be made available.
“They view the stadium plan as a big selling point for the casino,” said a City Hall operative, as reported by the cited source. “Anything that shows the state that more people will be coming to the Willets Point area will only help the casino plan.”
According to insiders approached by the NY Post, Cohen has been in talks with Hard Rock to partner in his potential gambling venture, and has spent “lots of money” and spent “a lot of time” being introduced to state and city officials in an effort to start making relationships.
Records show that, through a new entity created in April called “New Green Willets,” Cohen has shelled out $334,854 on outside lobbyists trying to secure support for a casino and other business from many state and city officials. The meet-and-greets have included private talks or walking tours with Mayor Adams and many other top officials.
New Green Willets lists Michael Sullivan, chief of staff of Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, as its principal in-house lobbyist. Cohen also donated $1.5 million to a Super PAC that backed Adams’ successful mayoral campaign last year; while his wife Alexandra boosted Gov. Hochul’s successful election bid this year with a $69,700 donation.
According to the NY Post, Cohen has discussed building a casino in Citi Field’s parking lot. However, given the land is technically considered parkland, additional state approvals would be needed. One insider told the news source that the billionaire’s group is confident it can get the parkland designation removed.
The fierce battle to win one of the three New York City casino licenses keeps heating up. Earlier this week, Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation, and Legends announced a partnership with developer Thor Equities on a “comprehensive” casino, hotel and entertainment bid for Coney Island.
Other two proposals have also been publicly announced. One of them involves a partnership between real estate heavyweight SL Green and casino-entertainment giant Caesars Entertainment, with plans for “a premiere entertainment and gaming destination” in the heart of Times Square.
Another competing bid calls for a casino in Hudson Yards from real estate and gambling giants Related Companies and Wynn Resorts, which would be located on the undeveloped western portion of the area, fulfilling prior housing and public space commitments.
However, two existing racinos are considered front-runners for two of the three licenses: Genting Group’s Resorts World New York City in Queens and MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers, N.Y., which would be allowed to expand their offerings into full-casino gaming if granted licenses.