Bid For Downstate NY Casino In Times Square Receives Major Blowback

Written By Matt Boecker on April 19, 2023
downstate ny casino times square coalition

Each downstate casino proposal in New York has received backlash from community members to some degree. But perhaps none more so than the groups bidding for a Times Square location.

The groups backing the New York casino proposal include some heavy-hitters. The Caesars Palace Times Square bid comes via Caesars Entertainment, SL Green Realty Corp., New York City’s largest real estate investment trust, and Roc Nation, owned by Jay-Z.

But local groups and businesses aren’t impressed with the proposal. And they’ve been adamant about their disapproval.

Last week, the Broadway League, a 700-plus member group of influential theater owners and operators, organized the No Times Square Casino Community Coalition.

Group pushing back against Times Square Casino

The No Times Square Casino group believes there would be significant negative impacts from bringing a gaming venue to the area.

Current members of the coalition range from the Broadway League to the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, from Times Square Church to the American Bus Association, and from Encore Community Services to The Student & Youth Travel Association.

The list of groups pushing back against Caesars and SL Green’s proposal have a variety of concerns about a casino in Times Square. The coalition’s website reads:

“After a long recovery from the pandemic, visitors are rediscovering the allure of the theater and returning to the restaurants around Times Square. Casinos are built to keep visitors inside their doors as long as possible, patronizing their own restaurants, shops and entertainment venues—at the expense of the 90,000-plus jobs nearby businesses support.​”

They also fear the already congested area would get even more traffic. Like every other bid, the No Times Square Casino group believes a rise in crime would also follow the opening of a casino.

The risk of a casino preying on vulnerable populations is another reason for the coalition’s apprehension.

Local support crucial in downstate NY casino bidding process

The opinions of community members isn’t just important for each NY casino proposal’s marketing plan. It’s also a requirement for the New York State Gaming Commission to even consider giving a group a casino license.

Each downstate casino bid will be presented to a six-member committee, and it must get a majority vote of approval before it’s reviewed by the NYSGC.

Included in that six-member panel: representatives for the governor and mayor, along with the local Assembly member, senator, City Council representative and borough president.

Groups backing the proposal envision it benefiting everyone

The groups pushing for the Caesars Palace Times Square believe it would be a good thing for the community. They have their own support group called the Coalition for a Better Times Square that includes hotels, labor unions, businesses and restaurants.

The proposal’s investors project that seven million more people would visit Times Square annually if Caesars lands a casino license. They also expect an additional 600,000 visitors to hotels, $166 million in retail spending and $65 million in Broadway ticket sales.

Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg released this statement earlier this month:

“At the core of our vision for this project is the idea that our guests will flow directly from our five-star boutique hotel, gaming floor, sportsbook and entertainment destination into the existing vibrant entertainment and culinary community in and around Times Square.”

Photo by PlayNY
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Matt Boecker

Born in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Matt graduated from Northern Illinois University, where he covered NIU hockey for the Northern Star. Since then, Matt has specialized in NFL and NBA coverage for various websites and podcasts before shifting gears to casino and sports betting coverage.

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