Hard Rock Eyes Up Three Potential Sites for $2bn New York City Casino

  • Hard Rock is one of several gaming giants aiming to win one of three NY City casino licences
  • Chairperson Allen did not disclose where Hard Rock could potentially build a downstate casino
  • He has, however, ruled out the iconic Hard Rock Hotel New York as a possible location
  • While RFPs are still forthcoming, Allen expects the selection to start late summer, early fall
Hard Rock Cafe New York
Already an iconic New York City fixure via its Times Square operation (pictured), Hard Rock International has announced it has identified three potentials sites to build a $2bn casino in downstate NY. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

At least three locations

Hard Rock International — a contender for one of only three available licenses for a downstate New York City casino — has upped its marketing ante, announcing it has established at least three potential sites for a $2bn project.

did not disclose the specifics of the potential sites

Hard Rock chairperson Jim Allen confirmed the news during an interview in Atlantic City on Thursday, although he did not disclose the specifics of the potential sites. Allen said Hard Rock is now “waiting on the governor and the committee that’s going to be sending out the request for proposals (RFPs).”

The Hard Rock exec added his firm would study the RFP to “see what language is in the bill as to geographic locations that would be acceptable to the state.”

Choices to be made

In October, Hard Rock was one of the first operators out of the blocks in the race for a New York City casino license, submitting an expression of interest to the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) before the December 10 deadline.

While not revealing his firm’s proposed casino locations, Allen did, however, rule out Hard Rock Hotel New York as one of them. The exec said the casino project requires “a footprint of real estate large enough to take advantage of the size of the market.” Hard Rock believes the iconic hotel on 48th Street doesn’t fit that mold.

Allen said the Meadowlands plan is still viable

Hard Rock also has partial ownership of the Meadowlands racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey — which is just outside NY City and part of the Tri-State Region — and has plans to build a casino there. Allen said the Meadowlands plan is still viable even if Hard Rock receives one of the three coveted downstate licenses.

At his firm’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on Thursday, Allen also announced the Florida-based gaming giant would distribute bonuses amounting to $10m among 2,400 of its local New Jersey employees due to the property’s strong performance.

Momentum gathering

New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget, announced in January this year, has confirmed that the plans for legal casino gambling in downstate New York will go forward. It allowed the NY Gaming Facility Location Board to issue an RFA to open three new casinos.

In Thursday’s interview, Allen said he expects the operator selection process to start late summer or early fall, subject to the enaction of necessary legislation.

Many of the US’s leading gambling and hospitality firms have also officially expressed interest in the project, including Bally’s Corporation, Genting Group, MGM Resorts International, Rush Street Gaming, Wynn Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands.

In January, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering, described the plan to establish three casinos as a “win-win-win” situation. “We can issue licenses this year and raise anywhere from $1bn to $2bn in revenues,” Pretlow said.