Won't file legislation needed for the project

New York: Queens State Senator opposes Mets owner Steven Cohen's $8 billion casino proposal near Citi Field

State Senator Jessica Ramos of Queens
Reading time 1:31 min

State Senator Jessica Ramos of Queens is seeking to halt a major casino proposal in her district, opposing a gambling plan supported by Steven A. Cohen, the billionaire owner of the New York Mets.

Ramos, a progressive Democrat considering a mayoral run in New York City next year, announced that she would not introduce legislation allowing a casino at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, The New York Times reported. The legislation would have expanded the permitted uses of a city parkland patch to include gambling.

Ramos criticized the pressure from the bid to support the proposal, highlighting her community's history of neglect. Cohen, a prominent hedge fund manager, and partner Hard Rock International have proposed an $8 billion casino project.

“We want investment and opportunity, we are desperate for green space, and recreation for the whole family. We disagree on the premise that we have to accept a casino in our backyard as the trade-off,” Ramos was quoted as saying in the report.

The proposed casino would be located next to Citi Field on parking lots bordering several Queens neighborhoods. The project, named Metropolitan Park, is part of Cohen's bid for one of three state licenses available for constructing a full-scale casino in downstate New York. 

The Metropolitan Park project would encompass 25 acres of newly created public park space. Included in the proposal is a Hard Rock hotel and casino and a separate sportsbook site, according to previous details provided by the partners.

The team of lobbyists and consultants assembled by Cohen and Hard Rock might spend the next year attempting to change Ramos's mind or find alternatives, the report said. The only likely workaround in the State Legislature would be for Cohen and Hard Rock to convince another senator to introduce the necessary legislation, though this is considered unlikely as the Legislature typically defers to local lawmakers on district issues.

Ramos proposed an alternative plan allowing Cohen and his partners to build a convention center and hotel near La Guardia Airport, enabling them to profit, albeit less. She has been a vocal critic of Mayor Eric Adams, who has long supported casino gaming in the city.

In Albany, Ramos reiterated her opposition to the casino project, citing her constituents' concerns and criticizing Cohen's team for hiring numerous lobbyists and experts. She expressed confidence that her colleagues would not circumvent her decision, the report said.

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