Casino News

Jeff Gural Says Citi Field Casino is Most Likely to Happen

In the spring, the New York State legislature officially fast-tracked the issuance of the three downstate full casino licenses. And now state real estate and gambling companies are eyeing possible locations. The owner of Tioga Downs Casino Resort, Jeff Gural, predicts that New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s plan for a Citi Field casino is most likely to materialize.

A few years ago, the Empire State put a moratorium on the three downstate licenses as legislators wanted to give upstate ones a chance to adjust to the local gaming scenery. However, after lengthy discussions, the moratorium was lifted and now gambling operators can apply to get their hands on the licenses and there are plenty of candidates already.

Manhattan is Off the Table

At the Racing and Gaming Conference in Saratoga, Mr. Gural spoke about the future of downstate casinos, and he believes that a Citi Field casino is most likely to happen. He also dismissed the idea of a casino in Manhattan, due to the fact that locals will not tolerate it and they do not want a gaming property in their borough.

Mr. Gural is quite confident that a casino license will not be issued to Manhattan and advises anyone who is trying to launch there not to waste their time. He predicts that there will be overwhelming opposition to a Manhattan casino as people and other businesses will vote against it and that Saratoga would have been a suitable location to establish a new gaming property.

However, some developers are already considering a high-profile gaming property in Manhattan. According to Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, there is an interested party in bringing a casino to Saks Fifth Avenue. In the meantime, former NY Governor David Paterson said that a casino in Manhattan is one of the most ridiculous things he has ever heard and laughed off an idea of a casino on Madison Square Garden.

The owner of the New York Mets Mr. Cohen is the 99th richest man in the world with a net worth of over US$17 billion. And there are reports already that he has started talks with Las Vegas Sands. However, Mr. Cohen’s plan has already faced discontent from Queens communities. But early lawmakers’ predictions state that a casino in NYC could be up and running by the end of this year.

Battling Out for the Third

But at the end of the day, Mr. Gural said that developers are not contesting three licenses, but rather one. He believes that two of the licenses are almost nailed on for MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting Malaysia’s Resorts World New York City in Queens. The two are already operational in the state, but a full-scale license would allow them to expand their offerings further.

Earlier this year, there were also talks of having a new casino in Kips Bay, Manhattan at the Water Club. However, residents quickly spoke against the plans. Local Diane Liotta, a gambler herself, said that she does not want to roll the dice on a casino property near her home on 39th Street if it will attract shady characters.