The competitive process for a downstate New York casino license is going to lead to vast redevelopments in the greater New York City metro. The three casinos will not only bring new buildings but redesign entire neighborhoods and transportation systems. Carrying out these plans will employ thousands and use a mountain of resources.
But building a casino is only half the battle. Regulators will consider several factors when selecting the winners of each license. Among those factors is the impact on local traffic. The 10 bids are far from equal when it comes to their walkability and public transportation access.
Ten New York casino bids spread across the city
Of the 10 bids already in contention, five operators want to build a Manhattan casino. Two operators are considering Queens, while one is eying the Coney Island neighborhood in Brooklyn, another on Long Island, and one in the Bronx.
The five operators and their respective partners eying Manhattan are:
- Manhattan Casino/Stefan Soloviev
- Caesars Time Square/SL Green/Caesars Entertainment
- Wynn Casino/Related Cos./Wynn Resorts
- Vornado Realty Trust
- Saks Casino
The two operators looking at Queens are:
- Resorts World Casino/Resorts World NYC
- Hard Rock Queens/NY Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hard Rock
Lastly, Thor Equities is the operator targeting Coney Island, Las Vegas Sands is focused on Long Island, and Empire City Casino is in the Bronx.
- Sands Casino/Las Vegas Sands
- Saratoga Casino/Thor Equities/Saratoga Casino Holdings/Chickasaw Nation/Legends
- Empire City Casino/Empire City VIT
Breaking down traffic impact
Of course, each location will come with its pros and cons. However, looking specifically at traffic and pedestrian data from Walk Score, some sites rank higher than others. Walk Score considers how walkable a location is, its accessibility to public transit and if it has bike infrastructure.
For instance, the potential Las Vegas Sands Casino at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale ranks at the bottom on Walk Score’s metrics.
Sands Casino – Long Island
- Walk Score – 27 (car-dependent)
- Transit Score – 0
- Bike Score – 62 (some bike infrastructure)
Las Vegas Sands is known to have lots of political clout, but convincing regulators that a casino so deep into New York might take a lot of work.
While the exact addresses of the potential Manhattan casinos are unknown, most are considering sites in relatively the same areas. For these operators, their Walk Scores are identical.
Manhattan casinos – Manhattan
- Walk Score – 99 (walkers paradise)
- Transit Score – 100 (rider’s paradise)
- Biker Score – 93 (biker’s paradise)
The challenge for operators eyeing Manhattan will be convincing regulators why their vision is better than the competitions.
The Thor Equities bid for Coney Island fairs well in some categories.
Coney Island Casino – Brooklyn
- Walk Score – 77 (very walkable)
- Transit Score – 83 (excellent public transit)
- Bike Score – 63 (somewhat bikeable)
Again, the operator will be placed in the same boat as Las Vegas Sands in convincing regulators why a casino at the bottom of New York is a good idea.
Cohen has big ideas for redeveloping the area surrounding Citi Field. According to Walk Score, the location checks all the boxes.
Citi Field casino – Queens
- Walk Score – 65 (somewhat walkable)
- Transit Score – 89 (excellent public transit)
- Bike Score – 50 (bikable)
Local lawmakers and Cohen’s competitors have already expressed their thoughts on why a casino won’t work in Queens.
Brett Herschenfeld, an executive vice president at SL Green who is partnering with LVS, said:
“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.”
Resorts World already operates a Class II casino in New York; securing a license would catapult it to a Class III facility allowing it to offer NY sports betting and table games. Thus, Resorts World is one of two properties experts believe will secure one of the three casino licenses.
Resorts Work – Queens
- Walk Score – 88 (very walkable)
- Transit Score – 72 (excellent public transit)
- Bike Score – 53 (bikable)
Empire City Casino in Yonkers is the other Class II property also considered a lock.
Empire City Casino – Bronx
- Walk Score – 69 (somewhat walkable)
- Transit Score – 45 (some transit)
- Bike Score – 53 (bikable)
Casinos across the US are known to impact their respective neighborhoods in various ways. Casinos could bring economic value and tax dollars but can also cause traffic jams and flood areas with people. Ultimately, it will be up to New York regulators to decide which operator provides the best plan for the city.