Broadway Reacts to Times Square Casino Proposal

The two main organizations representing Broadway theaters have issued conflicting statements about the impact they believe a proposed Caesars casino would have in Times Square. At issue are its potential effect on the theater district, its economy, and whether it would take Times Square a step backward toward the seedy and unsafe place it was during the 1970s.

This week, Caesars Entertainment announced that it is partnering with SL Green Realty Corporation on a redevelopment proposal for 1515 Broadway in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district, including a bid for a New York City casino permit.

The Minskoff Theatre, at 1515 Broadway, is the site of a proposed new casino from Caesars Entertainment, which would be built with a theater for The Lion King. (Image;

The Broadway League, the national trade association for New York theaters and producers, is not a fan.

“The Broadway League does not endorse a casino in Times Square,” read its statement, published via Playbill. “The addition of a casino will overwhelm the already densely congested area and would jeopardize the entire neighborhood whose existence is dependent on the success of Broadway. Broadway is the key driver of tourism and risking its stability would be detrimental to the city.”

The Broadway League – formerly the League of New York Theatres and Producers – includes theater owners and operators, producers, presenters and general managers in New York and 250 other North American cities. It was founded in 1930.

“The Broadway League’s influence and clout and understanding of what theatergoers want is crucial to the future of Times Square, and if they’re opposing this proposal, I don’t see how it proceeds,” state senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the district including Times Square, told the New York Times.

Dramatic Conflict

However, another powerful theatrical organization expressed the opposing view. The Actors’ Equity Association – the labor union representing the bulk of those who work in live theatrical performance – issued a statement applauding “the developer’s commitment to make the neighborhood safer for arts workers and audience members alike.” Its statement called the casino proposal “a game changer that boosts security and safety in the Times Square neighborhood with increased security staff, more sanitation equipment, and new cameras.”

It is presumed that the Broadway League opposes the project because it will detract from the theater’s position as the main tourist attraction in the area, while Actors’ Equity supports the project because its priority is maximizing unionized jobs, which the casino would add.

The pandemic shutdown hit Broadway hard. Fewer shows are running than before the pandemic and are grossing less revenue. The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest-running show, is closing on Feb. 18, 2023, after 35 years.

The proposed casino – expected to include a hotel, restaurants and retail – would replace Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, current home to Disney’s The Lion King, but would include a theater in which the musical would continue running.

Last month, another real estate giant, Related Companies, partnered with another Las Vegas gaming giant Wynn Resorts, in a proposal for a casino in Related’s Hudson Yards complex.


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