Report: Developers Pitch NYC Casinos in Times Square, Hudson Yards, Coney Island

The future NYC casino landscape is coming into focus. The New York Post reports that Times Square, Hudson Yards, Coney Island, and Willets Point near Citi Field are among the contenders for the city’s new casino locations.

We’ve known for months that three casino licenses are available for the New York City area, but where precisely those will go remains a mystery. The Post’s report gives New Yorkers a first look at where we can expect a casino to land. 

Details on the Potential Sites for an NYC Casino

In 2013, New York state lawmakers legalized casinos but prohibited them from being licensed downstate until 2023. In this year’s 2023 budget proceedings, Hochul and state lawmakers decided to speed up the process to start accepting applications in 2022. The move to accelerate is partly due to lobbying from the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council and others. 

While the three available licenses could technically go anywhere downstate, Mayor Eric Adams has been clear about wanting at least two in New York City — rather than nearby jurisdictions like Yonkers or Long Island. 

According to the Post, several prominent NYC developers are in talks with the City and casino operators, pitching their preferred locations for NYC casinos. Here are the spots that are heating up.

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Hudson Yards

Related Companies is reportedly eyeing a venue near its Hudson Yards megadevelopment. Officials from Related have met with City Hall to propose a spot on the Far West Side where they would build a casino over rail tracks. 

The chairman of Related Companies, Stephen Ross, is a big donor to Gov. Hochul, who will strongly influence the license recipients. 

Times Square

If you thought Times Square was already maxed out on space, think again. Mega developers Vornado and SL Green are reportedly pitching locations in or near Times Square. 

Related, Vornado, and SL Green would aim to form partnerships with casino operators Hard Rock, Sands, or Wynn.

Hudson Yards and Times Square have access to major transportation lines in Penn Station, Port Authority, and the Times Square metro station.

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Citi Field/Willets Point

Speaking of Hard Rock, their executives have reportedly discussed a partnership with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen for a casino in Willets Point next to Citi Field. 

The location already hosts throngs of sports fans and concertgoers at Citi Field. It’s also next to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which hosts the US Open, major stadium concerts, and several festivals and fairs.

Willets Point is accessible by transit along the No. 7 subway line, the Long Island Rail Road, Grand Central Parkway, and the Long Island Expressway.

Hard Rock donated $119,000 to the NY Democratic Party and contributed over six figures to Gov. Hochul’s election campaign. 

Coney Island

Thor Equities is reportedly in talks with major real estate mogul John Catsimatidis to build a casino in Coney Island. Catsimatidis developed the famous Ocean Drive waterfront residences in Coney Island. 

“A casino would be a wonderful thing for Coney Island and Brooklyn,” Catismatidis told the Post

Like the other sites, Coney Island already handles millions of visitors every year. People visit for the beach, shows, and of course, the Luna Park amusement park. 

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Who are the Other Contenders for the Three Licenses?

The Greater New York City Area is already home to two racinos: Empire City, MGM’s electronic gambling facility in Yonkers, and Genting’s Resorts World at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. 

These two sites don’t have table games but host casino-like properties with video lottery terminals. Resorts World claims to have “the highest-grossing slots casino in the world” and to be the “the largest single property taxpayer in New York.”

Both will likely throw their hat in the ring for the downstate licenses. Since both already have zoning and space on their side, they’re likely to have a leg up on the competition. 

That would leave one license for the rest to battle over.

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How Likely Are These Sites to Win a NY Casino License?

It will be an uphill battle, but the tides seem to be moving in that direction. 

The New York Times likened the scrum to speed dating, “with casino operators freely consorting with several developers.” 

And that’s just the first part. The New York State Gaming Commission will create a Gaming Facility Location Board with at least three members by Oct. 6. At that point, they can start issuing requests for applications for the casino licenses, and they have 90 days to do so. The Location Board will make a final recommendation to the Gaming Commission.

However, backers of each project also have to win approval from at least two-thirds of a six-member community advisory board in the area where they want to build. This means that community activists and local elected officials can strongly influence the selection process.

Some are already speaking out against casinos — especially in Manhattan. Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents both the Hudson Yards and Times Square neighborhoods, told the Post that he strongly opposes a Manhattan casino in concept. 

Also, depending on where the NYC casino site is, New York City Council will likely have to rezone the land as current regulations prohibit casinos. That process alone could drag on for months. 

Despite these potential timing setbacks, with Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams on board, it’s just a matter of time before NYC gets its first casinos. 

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

About the Author

Hannah Vanbiber

Hannah Vanbiber is one of our writers for NY Sports Day. She started her journalism career in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a reporter covering local sports, entertainment, and business in the East Tennessee area. She is now a full-time freelance writer, editor, and reporter, covering women’s sports and sports betting in the New York metropolitan area.

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