The battle for a New York casino license continues to heat up. This time, real estate developers and local politicians exchange words, each citing why a casino is best suited for their borough.
The state opened the bidding process for three New York City casino licenses on Jan. 3. Since then, gambling operators and real estate developers have been lobbying for potential sites all over the five boroughs.
Potential casino sites include Manhattan, Queens and Coney Island.
The case for a Manhattan casino
Brett Herschenfeld, an executive vice president at SL Green, thinks putting a casino in Queens is the wrong idea. “No tourists are going to fly to New York to go to Queens. They’ll go to Las Vegas — there’s nothing unique about Queens.”
SL Green is partnering with Caesars Entertainment and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation on a bid to bring a casino to Times Square. Herschenfeld said:
“We’ll get tourists, and we’re gonna get affluent residents of Manhattan and New Jersey, who will not go to Atlantic City anymore. That’s a whole new consumer base that we get because we didn’t put it outside of Manhattan.”
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine agrees and believes Manhattan’s dense population will benefit all economically. “There are unique hurdles in Manhattan,” Levine said.
“Any site here, there’s an opportunity cost for what else could be built on that site. And because of the density here, there’s just no avoiding a major impact on surrounding businesses and offices and residents.”
What about a casino in Queens?
Although New York Mets owner Steve Cohen decided not to respond to Herschenfeld’s comment, Queens politicians had other plans.
In an interview, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said:
“Queens is the future. Manhattan? That was maybe 1983. We’re in 2023 now. I could see no other place better than Queens for the city’s comeback. “We have an opportunity to have an entertainment hub, soccer, baseball, all intertwined.”
Cohen is at the center of a bid, along with Las Vegas Sands, to bring a casino to Citi Field. Plans from the hedge fund billionaire include a complete overhaul of the surrounding area, including 50 acres of vacant asphalt.
In addition to the Manhattan and Queens proposal, Thor Equities is pitching a casino near the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn.
Experts anticipate two of the licenses will go to existing racinos in the city. Genting’s Resorts World in Queens and MGM’s Empire City in Yonkers, leaving operators competing for the third and final license.