Steven Cohen has already proclaimed his interest in acquiring one of the downstate commercial gaming licenses, but his bid to bring one to Citi Field has been obstructed. The owner of the New York Mets recently learned that New York State Sen. Jessica Ramos will not be introducing a bill which was supposed to change the designation of property in the Willets Point region.
A while back, Mr. Cohen shared his aspirations of potentially launching a casino hotel and other entertainment options in close proximity to Citi Field. However, he needs first interference from state officials, as the land is designated a parkland. Such a bill was introduced in March, but it still needs a companion bill in the Senate, approval from Senate and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Time is Running Out
Ms. Ramos who is a Democrat responsible for the communities closest to the ballpark, has recently shared that she will not introduce legislation which would change the parkland designation which is held by the land that is eyed for a casino. The bill is not completely ruled out, but at the time, the Senator’s decision would affect Mr. Cohen’s plans of getting one of the downstate licenses.
The matter will most likely not be discussed in the current legislative session, as there is not much time to do so. The New York Legislature is on course to be dismissed on June 8, 2023, hence there be only 11 to 12 working days left in the session. There is also the issue of how much support a casino project would receive from businesses and communities of the Citi Field area.
So far there have been several surveys conducted on behalf of Mr. Cohen which have shown that locals would not oppose a casino in the area. However, some questions were ambiguous as they did not exactly specify the inclusion of a gaming property in Willets Point. Also, Ms. Ramos said that almost two-thirds of attendees at her recent town hall in Queens oppose such a project in the neighbourhood.
On top of that, there is another issue on the cards for the owner of the Mets. Currently, Resorts World New York City in Queens is among the favourites for one of the licenses and the property is less than 10 miles from Citi Field. This raises questions of whether or not lawmakers would be interested in having another gaming facility in Queens and if it would be an appealing prospect.
Application Process is Underway
In January 2023, the state launched a Request for Applications process which is led by the Gaming Facility Location Board which will review bids from third-party companies. There are a total of three non-tribal full-scale casino licenses to be awarded and the winners should be announced by the end of 2023. A winning bid is expected to pay US$500 million for the license with another US$500 as an investment for the area.
There are already plenty of candidates for the licenses with Resorts World NYC and Empire City Casino considered almost nailed on. Recently, the consortium of Caesars Entertainment, Roc Nation, and SL Green issued an open letter to discuss the positives of a gaming facility in Times Square. But their bid has also faced opposition as some theatre groups are not fond of it.
Source: Shriber, Todd “New York Lawmaker Temporarily Blocks Citi Field Casino Plan” Casino.org, May 22, 2023