The sudden availability of a Manhattan-Times Square casino project proposal prompted Caesars to change its stance on entering the New York land-based market, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg told PlayNY.
Before partnering with NYC developer SL Green on a Times Square bid in October, Reeg had said during an earlier earnings call that it was “extraordinary unlikely” Caesars would be going commercial in the Big Apple.
Now, it seems Caesars has changed its tune. And a downstate New York casino appears to have entered the company’s crosshairs.
Caesars NY casino a ‘home run’ if awarded license
Speaking to PlayNY at the Indian Gaming Association Mid-Year Conference in Arizona, Reeg said that Caesars recognized it was a “free agent.”
“We have a brand that would be among those that should be considered for a big-city casino,” Reeg said.
“We were shown a partnership in an unbelievable location. If it’s awarded, the only casino license in Manhattan. It’ll be a home run.”
Hard Rock had been in talks with SL Green before changing course and working with New York Mets’ owner Steve Cohen on a Citi Field casino project proposal. As a result, the door opened for Caesars.
“I had other conversations going, and there was nothing that looked like that,” Reeg said. “So at that point (in February) it was very safe to say it’s probably not going to happen.”
When it comes to NY casino, it’s Manhattan or nothing
In Reeg’s view, it was Manhattan or nothing, he confirmed to PlayNY.
All Manhattan casino projects are expected to face significant community and political opposition. Wynn is working with Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins’ owner, and his development company Related on a possible casino at Hudson Yards on the West Side.
“We are economic animals. We want to limit what we do on our balance sheet,” Reeg said. “But for what it could do both economically and for our brand, it makes a lot of sense.
“All of that said, we know it’s an uphill climb for anybody to earn a license.”