NY Casino Owner: Location Near Citi Field is Most Likely Spot For New Downstate Casino

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. Real estate developer and Tioga Downs Casino Resort owner Jeff Gural declared New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s plan for a casino near Citi Field the most likely to happen in downstate New York unless “they screw it up totally.”

Speaking at the Racing and Gaming Conference at Saratoga, Gural quashed the idea of a casino landing somewhere in Manhattan, even though competition has been fierce for three new casino licenses downstate after the state budget passed this year allowed for them.

Gural, noting that Manhattan residents fought the arrival of an Amazon headquarters in 2019, were like people everywhere in that “they don’t want a casino near them.”

“There won’t be any casino in Manhattan,” Gural predicted. “So anyone who’s trying to get a casino in Manhattan is wasting their time, in my opinion. There’ll be overwhelming opposition to a casino in Manhattan. [Saratoga] would’ve been the logical place to put a casino, in the Capital District.

“The people in Saratoga voted against it for the same reason. The people in Manhattan are going to vote against it. The restaurants, the other attractions don’t want to compete with the casino.”

Developers pitching high-profile casino projects for Manhattan

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who has been instrumental in bringing gambling expansion, including NY sports betting, to the Empire State, said interest is so high for the licenses that he had conversations with a party that wants to place a casino atop Saks Fifth Avenue.

Former New York Gov. David Paterson called a Manhattan casino “one of the most preposterous things I’ve heard” and chuckled while noting he’d heard a pitch for a casino on atop of Madison Square Garden.

Gural said it was a virtual lock that MGM Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World NYC a Genting property in Queens would likely acquire licenses to expand from slots and electronic games into a full casino such as the four further north in New York. That means only one other license is in play, he said.

“I think we’ve overcomplicated something pretty simple,” he said. “The reality is this is just a contest for one license. There’s no way in the world that Genting and MGM don’t get licensed. It’s inconceivable. They have such an advantage. There’ll be no opposition. They can open quickly.”

Cohen, the 99th-richest man in the world with a net worth of more than $17 billion, according to Forbes, has engaged in talks with Las Vegas Sands, according to PlayNY. There has also been local opposition in Queens to the Cohen plan.

Pretlow predicted that a casino would be in operation within New York City by 2023.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

About the Author

Brant James

Brant James is the lead writer for NY Sports Day, canvassing events and trends in the gambling industry. He has covered the American sports betting industry in the United States since before professional sports teams even knew what an official gaming partnership entailed. Before focusing on the gambling industry, James was a nationally acclaimed motorsports writer and a long-time member of the National Hockey League media corps, formerly writing for USA Today, ESPN, SI.com and the Tampa Bay Times.

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