Caesars Reportedly U-Turns on Decision to Leave NYC Casino Race

  • Caesars is reportedly working on a bid with mega New York property developer SL Green
  • Earlier, Caesars CEO Reeg seemed to suggest the company would not bid for an NYC casino
  • Each of the licenses will likely carry a significant fee of at least $500m, according to reports
  • Genting and MGM are favorites to get two licenses due to their existing NYC gaming venues
Times Square
Caesars Entertainment is reportedly partnering with SL Green to submit a bid to build a casino in Times Square. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A casino in Times Square

Caesars Entertainment is reportedly partnering with SL Green to submit a bid to build a casino in Times Square.

It looks like Caesars Entertainment is reversing a previous decision to back out of the New York City (NYC) casino race. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the casino company appears to be working alongside the mega New York property developer SL Green Realty Corporation on a casino proposal in Times Square. According to the news source, they have been attempting to enlist local retailers, restaurants, and construction workers in the project.

fund the deployment of surveillance drones

As part of their plan, gambling revenue from the casino would go towards doubling the number of public safety officers around Times Square, as well as funding the deployment of surveillance drones and artificial intelligence camera systems. In the pitch letter obtained by the New York Times, Caesars and SL Green reportedly deemed the project a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to once again solidify Times Square as the world’s greatest entertainment area.”

A U-turn

Caesars Entertainment has made no comments regarding the rumors, according to the NYT. It was only in February that Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg appeared to rule out the possibility of the company pursuing a license in the state. He labeled New York a “difficult regulatory state,” adding that it would be very expensive to build a casino there.

Times Square is the center of the US theatre industry and plays a key role in New York City’s economy. It is also one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the world.

In that earnings call, Reeg also highlighted the significant license fee that a New York casino would require, as well as other types of investment that the project would necessitate. He ultimately concluded that “it’s extraordinarily unlikely that we make a material investment into New York land-based.” In fact, the CEO seemed to imply that the company would not invest in any land-based property in the near future.

A big boon for state coffers

There is plenty of interest in a potential NYC casino project from major casino companies. Currently, there are no comprehensive commercial casinos open in downstate New York. The only gaming venues close to a casino are gaming machine facilities that are operated by Genting and MGM Resorts International.

Each license would carry a fee of at least $500m

Many state lawmakers believe that three casinos in downstate New York would provide a big boost to the state’s financial situation. Each license would carry a fee of at least $500m.

Legislators gave the green light to the plans earlier this year, with the formal license bidding process set to begin in January. Under the current timeline, no decision would be made on the recipients of licenses until late 2023 at the earliest.

Plenty of interest from casino companies

While MGM and Genting reportedly are favorites to get two of the licenses due to their existing facilities in NY, others aren’t giving up. It appears that Wynn Resorts is working alongside Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on a possible casino in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards.

discussions with New York Mets owner Steven Cohen

Hard Rock International was supposedly in talks with SL Green about a possible Times Square project but has since moved on to discussions with New York Mets owner Steven Cohen. Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands, who previously had talks with Cohen, is now looking at other options.

Finally, there have been calls from some quarters to develop casinos on Coney Island and Staten Island.