Vornado Throws Hat Into Downstate NY Casino Ring With Project Near MSG

Written By Grant Lucas on January 26, 2023

Add Vornado Realty Trust to the growing list of companies expressing interest in one of three downstate New York casino licenses. One of the city’s largest commercial real estate investment firms, Vornado is considering a bid on a casino license to build a gaming facility where the soon-to-be-demolished Hotel Pennsylvania now stands near Madison Square Garden.

While noteworthy for its location and for Vornado’s vaunted reputation, as the New York Post reported, the group noted that it has “no deal in place” with a gaming operator at this time.

That said, it appears a tie connects Vornado with Neil Gary Bluhm, the managing principal of Chicago-based Walton Street Capital. Bluhm has his fingerprints on several commercial properties and casinos throughout the country, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Schenectady.

In just over a week, on Feb. 3, parties interested in acquiring one of the three licenses to operate downstate NY casinos will submit their first set of questions regarding the request for applications.

Vornado Realty targets NY casino near MSG

As noted in the New York Post report, Vornado Realty is simply “studying the possibility of applying for a casino license.”

In a statement to the Post:

“Our most important criterion for any project is that it meet the economic development objectives and produce the transit and public improvements set forth in the state’s General Project Plan.”

The Pennsylvania Hotel holds a venerable history in its own right. The likes of Harry Houdini and Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner. Not to mention Fidel Castro and hundreds of entrants in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The hotel falls witin the redevelopment plan of Gov. Kathy Hochul. As part of that project, Vornado will develop five of eight state-of-the-art offices.

Demolition of the hotel is scheduled for the end of the year.

Updating list of parties interested in downstate NY casinos

Since the Gaming Facility Location Board issued the request for applications earlier this month, real estate developers, gaming companies and deep-pocketed individuals have emerged with proposed locations.

That includes two other noteworthy real estate developers in SL Green and Related Companies. The list also features big-name gaming groups such as Caesars, Wynn, Hard Rock and Las Vegas Sands.

For its part, Sands has targeted Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island for its casino. The company has entered into an agreement to acquire the lease of the former home of the New York Islanders. The goal, according to Robert G. Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Sands, is to make this location a “flagship entertainment and casino project.”

With the first deadline of the RFA process looming, we take a look at what we know regarding New York casino proposals in and around New York City.


new york casino bidders locator map

Photo by Shutterstock / PlayNY
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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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