TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (PIX11) — A casino in the heart of Times Square? Gaming juggernaut Caesars Entertainment announced they’re teaming up with SL Green Realty to redevelop 1515 Broadway into a premiere gaming destination at the Crossroads of the World.
The state legislature has approved three full-service casinos downstate. Two of the licenses are expected to go to the existing Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World in Queens, both with racetracks and video slot machines, but neither have live table games. The competition for that third license is fierce. Other locations being talked about: Coney Island, an area near Citi Field and Wynn Resorts recently announced their plans for a casino in Hudson Yards in Midtown West.
Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., represents the 15th Senate District, which includes parts of Queens. Addabbo chairs the Committee on Racing Gaming and Wagering and said the revenue generated would go towards funding education as well as addiction treatment programs.
“We’re talking thousands of jobs, both construction and post-construction jobs,” said Addabbo. “95% of our gaming industry money goes to education.”
The proposed Times Square site currently houses the Minskoff Theater, home of the Lion King. It’s also a massive high-rise. Caesars said they will redevelop the building and will make significant investments in security traffic, and accelerate economic recovery for surrounding businesses. Their casino will be called Caesars Palace Times Square. Caesars released a statement and said:
We believe that Times Square offers the best location for a new resort casino that can attract tourists and benefit local businesses. We’re excited to pursue this license with Caesars and our many local partners. Our approach will ensure that under-represented communities benefit both in terms of employment and investment opportunities,” said Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green. “A casino in Times Square is in keeping with existing uses in the area. Times Square is the center of the entertainment universe. Because we are proposing a renovation, once the license is issued, we can open quicker than other facilities, which require entirely new construction, changes in law, and will be disruptive to their local communities.
The Entertainment Group adds, “Caesars Rewards members will be able to use credits at Broadway shows, local hotels, restaurants, retail stores, comedy clubs, entertainment venues, and more.”
But not everyone is happy with the plan. Some are concerned about quality-of-life issues, like congestion and crime. Others are concerned another casino will promote gambling addiction.
While several restaurant groups and the Actors’ Equity Association are for the casino, the Broadway League is against it. Their statement to PIX11 News:
The Broadway League does not endorse a casino in Times Square. 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.
“I don’t see it as competition; I see it as the supplementing of the entertainment,” said Addabbo in response. “Right now, our residents are gaming anyways, they’re going to go to Jersey or to Pennsylvania, or they’re going to Connecticut, or they’re going to do it illegally online, so what we’re trying to do is regulate it here in New York.”
The Times Square Alliance, the organization that works to improve and promote Times Square, is staying neutral. Their statement to PIX11:
The Times Square Alliance represents all businesses within our district and understands that they have differing viewpoints and opinions on this issue; therefore, to effectively represent all of our constituents, we will not be taking a position on a casino in Times Square at this time.
The Gaming Commission will consider all bids and will decide who receives the three available licenses sometime in the first quarter of 2023.
The state expects to take in anywhere from $500 to $750 million dollars per license. In total, New York could receive upwards of $2 billion in licensing fees.