Thor Equities has its partner — and the support of at least one local official — for a casino in Coney Island.
As confirmed by PlayNY, the real estate development and management firm intends to pursue one of the downstate casino licenses to become one of the newest full-fledged NY casinos in the state.
Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends have joined Thor’s bid for one of three downstate casino licenses. That proposal: a comprehensive casino, hotel and entertainment venue in Coney Island that will “transform the area.”
Three parties bolster bid for Coney Island casino
Within the next few months, the Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) will issue three downstate NY casino licenses. This will pave the way for the first fully fledged casinos to grace the New York City area.
Thor hopes to be among those recipients, with initial plans emerging last month. And it believes these partners will help put the bid over the top, according to the release.
New York State will issue three downstate casino licenses in the coming months, and this partnership allows officials to draw on the expertise and institutional knowledge of respected developers and operators while also fulfilling a generations-long promise to Coney Island by providing the region with a permanent, thriving local economic engine. If awarded a license, Coney Island’s economy will no longer be so singularly dependent on summertime amusement park visitors.
Saratoga Casino Holdings
Saratoga Casino Holdings already boasts a sturdy presence in New York, operator of the upstate Saratoga Casino Hotel. With additional casinos in Colorado and Mississippi, this partner has established a “proven track record,” as stated in the release. On top of that, Saratoga Casino Holdings has contributed more than $1.2 billion to the New York State Education Fund.
“My family has done business in New York for generations, including opening the first non-tribal casino in 2004 which has contributed over $1.2 billion to New York State education,” Sam Gerrity, CEO of Saratoga Casino Holdings, said in a release. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Thor Equities, LLC and Global Gaming Solutions, LLC, two world class organizations, to bring a community friendly gaming and entertainment venue to Coney Island.”
The expectation is that Saratoga Casino Holdings and the Chickasaw Nation will operate gaming in Coney Island. The tribe operates over 25,000 electronic games, including at the world’s largest casino: WinStar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma.
“We currently enjoy an excellent strategic partnership with Legends at our flagship property WinStar World Casino and Resort,” said Bill Lance, chairman of Global Gaming Solutions, a business entity of the Chickasaw Nation.
“Our investment and involvement in this project reflects a desire to expand that relationship and extend it to additional strategic partners in Thor and Saratoga. We look forward to a successful collaboration based on our combined strengths and perhaps most importantly – our shared commitment to develop a top-tier entertainment venue that promises to respect the history of the neighborhood and breathe new life into this iconic New York City landmark.”
Thor called Legends the “hometown team” in its press release. Established in 2008 along with the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, Legends stands as the entertainment partner. The company has staged events ranging from concerts to conventions not only in New York but also around the globe.
What’s more, Legends will commit to union employment opportunities in Coney Island.
“Legends is proud to work with Thor Equities and our gaming partners Saratoga Casino and The Chickasaw Nation to provide our operational and experiential expertise to bring the preeminent resort casino in New York to Coney Island,” Bill Rhoda, president of Legends Global Planning, said in the release. “This incredible resort will be a world class entertainment destination, with gaming, a variety of restaurants and entertainment for locals and tourists year-round.”
New York casino proposal has some local support
Joe Sitt, CEO and chairman of Thor Equities, was born in Brooklyn near Coney Island. As such, he holds a “deep-rooted personal connection” to the area. And now he focuses on local job creation to “benefit the underserved community,” according to the press release.
This project, Sitt said, would reclaim Coney Island’s legacy and create additional economic possibilities for the area. Thor aims to hire local residents and contract with local business to get this resort space operational. Investing more than $3 billion (none of which comes from taxpayers) will also create 2,500 construction jobs.
A community advisory committee will still need to review and approve the bid. That includes gauging support of the local area. But the project has backing from Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. From the release:
“This project will finally stimulate our local economy in a way that turns Coney Island into a year-round destination. Most importantly, it will create all-year full-time employment for our local residents who can grow their career and serve the community they grew up.”