Steve Cohen Calls For Local Input On Potential NY Casino Near Citi Field

Written By Grant Lucas on January 5, 2023
Downstate NY Casinos Queens Willets Point

It has been no secret that Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, has ample interest in building a New York casino near Citi Field.

Now, the billionaire financier is taking it a step further.

New Green Willetts LLC, a group formed by Cohen in early 2022 to lobby city and state officials on a potential NY casino near Citi Field, announced last month that it will host a “visioning session” on Jan. 7 at the ballpark.

The event welcomes residents of and employees in Queens to attend and provide input on the future of the property surrounding the stadium.

‘Status quo isn’t acceptable’ for area around Citi Field

For over a year, Cohen has held an interest in building a casino near the Mets’ home stadium. However, the New Green Willetts press release announcing the Jan. 7 event made no specific mention of a gaming facility.

Rather, Saturda’s gathering will include feedback on how to “re-imagine space” surrounding Citi Field.

Cohen intends to drastically improve the area, such as waterfront access, live entertainment and dining options.

“For months, we have been listening to the local community who keeps telling us there is more they want from the area. Everyone agrees that the status quo isn’t acceptable,” Cohen said in a statement last month.

“We are committed to putting forward a vision for the area that will create a shared space that people not only want to come to and enjoy, but can be proud of.”

Creating usable parks for the public, according to the statement, as well as an entertainment destination with live music and restaurants “will create thousands of good-paying jobs … for years to come.”

Does future of Queens include NY casino?

As noted, the press release announcing the “visioning session” did not specify any casino-related talk.

However, it did mention that the area around City Field has long featured “50 acres of vacant asphalt and wasted opportunity.” This all divides neighborhoods and limits access to the waterfront.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced in November a plan for a 25,000-seat soccer stadium for New York City FC of the MLS as well as a new housing development for nearby Willets Points.

Cohen reportedly hosted Adams and other City Hall officials to discuss development plans.

With that connection, with Cohen’s lobbying group already in place, and with an official request for applications for casino licensing now out, there is little doubt Cohen still envisions a casino as part of the future of Queens and Willets Point.

As stated in the press release:

“Entertainment is the economic engine that will make this area a destination every single day of the year— regardless of the weather, or if it’s baseball season.”

Photo by AP / Peter Morgan
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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