Real Estate Developers Mull Four Sites for New York City Casinos

Real estate developers are considering multiple sites in the five boroughs, including Times Square, for new casinos in New York City.

Times Square in New York City, seen above. Some developers would like to build a casino there. (Image: Seth Wenig/AP)

The New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) can issue three gaming permits for downstate gaming venues. The New York Post reports that several titans of local commercial real estate, along with some of the casino industry’s biggest names, are considering four sites in the New York City area, including Hudson Yards and Times Square in Manhattan.

Other areas reportedly under consideration are Coney Island in Brooklyn and Willets Point near Citi Field in Queens.

New York’s 2023 budget features a process to award three downstate casino licenses. Currently, the two New York City-area casinos — Resorts World New York City in Queens and MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers — are slots-only venues.

The state’s 2023 budget likely paves the way for those venues to become full-service casinos with table games and retail sportsbooks, and provide a third license for a yet-to-be-determined operator.

Bidding Could Draw Hard Rock, Sands, Wynn

Assuming Empire City and Resorts World win approval to offer table games and open retail sportsbooks, that leaves one license. Competition is expected to be fierce.

Hard Rock International — the gaming arm of the Seminole Tribe — Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts are all said to be interested in running a New York integrated resort. For Sands and Wynn, a new gaming venue in the largest US city would add much-needed revenue diversification, as the operators look to reduce their dependence on Macau.

Hard Rock is a viable player in the mix, too. The company has a non-gaming hotel in New York. It is a major donor to the New York Democratic Party and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D-NY) reelection campaign, having donated six figures to both entities, according to the Post.

Previously, Bally’s was rumored to be among the operators interested in a New York casino. Still, it’s unclear if that company’s $1.7 billion project in Chicago could temper its Big Apple ambitions.

Manhattan Could Be Heavy Lift

As speculation about a New York casino heats up, so does chatter that Manhattan — despite obvious desirability — is likely not ultimately in the cards as the home borough for a new gaming venue. State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who represents the Hudson Yards and Times Square neighborhoods, told the Post he’s against the idea, and he believes locals feel the same way, noting it’s outside groups driving the casino effort.

Rumors suggest strong opposition to a casino in Brooklyn and Westchester County, which, if true, reduces the number of areas in which gaming companies and real estate developers can consider.

All that could work in favor of Las Vegas Sands, which reportedly previously discussed the idea with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen. That’s an indication the operator is interested in Willets Point — a 61-acre plot of land across the street from Citi Field.

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