Cohen Covering All Bases As Firm Rep Sent To Meet With High-Ranking New York Lawmakers

Written By Grant Lucas on May 13, 2024
Image of the New York state capitol for a story on Steve Cohen sending a representative to talk to lawmakers about parkland alienation for his Metropolitan Park casino project.

Unsurprisingly, there seems to be no quit in Steve Cohen.

On the heels of his team implementing a new campaign effort to garner the support of local residents, the billionaire New York Mets owner reportedly sent a high-ranking representative to Albany in hopes of gaining legislative backing for a proposed Hard Rock casino around Citi Field.

According to Politico, Michael Sullivan, chief of staff for Cohen’s firm Point72 Asset Management, spent some time last week meeting with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

While Sullivan did not comment on the talks, there’s little doubt that they involved land-use easement – or parkland alienation – to allow for Cohen’s downstate casino, Metropolitan Park to become reality.

Ramos still remains as hurdle for Hard Rock casino proposal

Cohen envisions an $8 billion hub in Queens that features hotel towers, public space and a Hard Rock casino, among other amenities.

A key aspect of making this project come to life is an easement from the state as the proposal needs land currently designated as a park. The person responsible for making that happen, however, remains on the fence about doing just that.

Sen. Jessica Ramos must sponsor any legislative effort required to grant the easement. But she has also appeared mostly opposed to Cohen’s downstate New York casino proposal.

Last year, she emphasized that she and other community members “are not currently in a place where it would be appropriate to introduce parkland alienation legislation.” Yet she remains willing to hear from everyone about the project, those for and against it. Reports suggest that Ramos could make her decision within the next month.

“I’m not a gambler, but I would say I wish them a lot of luck,” Ramos said, according to Politico.

“I’ve questioned their strategy all along. We have done our best to engage as many constituents in the process that we’ve created, and we’ll see where that goes.”

Strategy adjusted to garner support for NY casino project

Prior to Sullivan meeting with legislators in the state capital, Cohen and his team of consultants and lobbyists launched a nine-month campaign effort aimed at residents in the Queens area.

The logic, of course, was to garner as much support as possible from Ramos’ constituents, which could way the senator to grant the parkland alienation. Of course, that would free up Metropolitan Park to make a serious case to earn one of the three downstate casino licenses, which could authorize the holder to offer NY online casinos once lawmakers legalize iGaming.

The campaign – which began with community outreach in the Corona, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights neighborhoods – includes mailers and multilingual ads on Facebook and Instagram.

“For two years, we’ve worked closely with the community and our local elected officials, including Senator Ramos, as we’ve developed a vision for Metropolitan Park, and we will continue to do so,” Karl Rickett, a spokesperson for Metropolitan Park, said in a statement to Politico.

Rickett later added:

“The more people learn about Metropolitan Park, the more they support it, which is why we will continue to communicate our shared vision and the economic impact it will have on our neighbors.”

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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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