Dreams of a Times Square casino resort in New York have met stiff opposition so far from longtime denizens including Broadway Show producers, but three full-scale casinos are coming to downstate New York and no stone has remained unturned in a search for just the right places.
Enter Coney Island, or more specifically a particular location – a piece near the corner of Surf Avenue and Bowery. That’s a piece of land owned by Thor Equities, a commercial real estate concern with major offices in New York, London, and Mexico City as well as satellite offices in Paris, Madrid, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon.
Thor Equities has put together a consortium that is pitching the idea of a major casino resort on Coney Island. Partners in the concept include Saratoga Casino Holdings, the owner and operator of a major racetrack casino just north of the state’s Albany capital in Saratoga Springs – and Chickasaw Nation’s Global Gaming Solutions (GGS), an Aboriginal American tribal company based in Oklahoma that owns and operates multiple casinos across the country including the “world’s largest casino”, WinStar World Casino and Resort.
Also included would be minority stakeholders, Legends Global Planning – a company co-founded by associates of the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys and responsible for tourist attractions and well-known stadiums like One World Observatory and SoFi Stadium.
Big Plans, Slim Details
Aside from stating that the partnership would build a $3 billion casino, hotel, and entertainment complex, the announcement was short on detail and long on the inspiration for the imagination.
Thor Equities is owned by Coney Island local Joe Sitt who is also part owner of the local entertainment district. Various reports indicate Sitt has been interested in one of the casino licenses since last summer.
In announcing the proposal Sitt said: “With our incredible partners, we are committed to creating lasting prosperity for a community and its residents and turn Coney Island into a vibrant year-round destination for all to enjoy. Together we have the track record across development, operations, gaming, entertainment, and job creation that is best suited to bring Coney Island security and vitality for the next century.”
Sitt launched Thor in New York in 1986 and has deep connections to Coney Island.
Sam Gerrity, CEO of Saratoga Casino Holdings LLC said: “My family has done business in New York for generations, including opening the first non-tribal casino in 2004 which has contributed over $1.2 billion to New York State education.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Thor Equities, LLC and Global Gaming Solutions, LLC, two world-class organizations, to bring a community-friendly gaming and entertainment venue to Coney Island.”
While the Chickasaw Nation (GGS) doesn’t currently have an active business in NYC, they are well-suited partners with 23 gaming sites in Oklahoma including WinStar, one of the world’s largest casinos. Winstar has nearly 400,000 square feet of gaming floor and features 9 city-themed gaming plazas holding over 10,000 electronic games. Venetian Macau has half a million sq ft of gaming floor hosting 6,000 slot machines and 800 gaming tables. Tables seat from 1- 9 players, but usually 6.
Global Gaming Solutions already has a strong relationship with Legends through its flagship WinStar property, according to GGS Chairman Bill Lance.
Lance said: “We look forward to a successful collaboration based on our combined strengths and perhaps most importantly – our shared commitment to develop a top-tier entertainment venue that promises to respect the history of the neighborhood and breathe new life into this iconic New York City landmark.”
The report indicated that the consortium would be working with local businesses and are dedicated to hiring local Coney Islanders. They plan to create a job training program for Brooklyn and Queens residents with a focus on hospitality and gaming. Thousands of permanent jobs in addition to about 2,500 temporary jobs are expected to be created if the project moves forward to fruition.
The People Spoke Almost a Decade Ago
In November 2013, voters in New York state passed a referendum that authorized up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos to be built with the express purpose of growing jobs, funding schools, and lowering local property taxes.
While it wasn’t written into the bill, leaders in Albany chose to implement the measure in two phases. The first four casinos were authorized for upstate New York – two were built in the Catskills, one near Albany, and one in the Southern Tier.
After waiting seven years for the outlying casino resorts to build clientele and establish businesses, three more casinos are now authorized to be built downstate and all of them could be built in New York City.
Big Money and heavy hitters are pursuing the licenses in “virgin territory” that is home to nearly 20 million people and currently has race tracks with lottery terminal slot machines and electronic gaming tables. The existing “racino” operators will surely be vying for the “real casino” licenses.
Source: Saratoga Casino Holdings, The Chickasaw Nation & Legends Join Thor Equities’ Bid for Coney Island Casino, Hotel & Entertainment Venue, Global News Wire, November 22, 2022