Jay-Z Teams up With Caesars for Times Square Casino in New York City

  • Jay-Z said in a statement that “New York is the epicenter of culture”
  • Roc Nation will oversee entertainment programming in Times Square
  • Caesars, Wynn and others are essentially competing for one license
  • Caesars Palace Time Square will have a small casino and a five-star hotel
Jay-Z
Caesars and SLG have inked a partnership with rapper Jay-Z and his entertainment agency Roc Nation in their bid for a downstate New York casino license. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Upping the ante

The eleventh-hour interloper in the multi-corporation gold rush for just three downstate New York casino licenses has upped the ante by adding star power to its pitch.

Jay-Z and his world famous entertainment agency, Roc Nation

For their Times Square casino project, the New York Post revealed Sunday, Caesars Entertainment and New York property developer SL Green (SLG) have inked a partnership with Jay-Z and his world-famous entertainment agency, Roc Nation. Fan account Jay-Z Daily shared a statement on the partnership from the billionaire entrepreneur via Twitter.

“New York is the epicenter of culture. We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of the true crossroads of the word,” the world’s most influential hip-hop artist said.

Landing such a heavyweight Brooklyn-born music and entertainment icon and his brand signals Caesars and SLG’s strategic, NY-culture embracing intent in the race for the three licenses.

With license applications opening on January 6, news of the Caesars-SLG-Roc Nation tie-up will likely get the marketing departments from rival bidding groups working overtime refining their proposals.

Major players make big moves

SLG’s annual investor conference on Monday is when — according to the NY Post’s Realty Check — the details of the Jay-Z-Caesars-SLG partnership will be announced. It’s expected, however, that Roc Nation will oversee entertainment programming at 1515 Broadway and other SLG Times Square properties.

thinking outside the pure casino-build box

That groups like Caesars and SLG are thinking outside the pure casino-build box, signals the intensity of the bidding war. This comes from the notion that the widely believed two favorites, Genting-owned Resorts World New York City in Queens and Yonkers’ Empire City Casino, practically have their licenses in the bag.

This essentially leaves just one license for which to fight.

Caesars-SLG’s bid, which came as a late surprise, is for Times Square, while Wynn Resorts-Related Companies are banking on Hudson Yards. Other interested bidders include New York Mets owner Steven Cohen (proposed site near Citi Park), the Soloviev Group (Midtown East), and Thor Equities Group, which has announced a $3bn bid for a Coney Island project. Add Vornado’s Steve Roth, who’s suggested a potential Herald Square bid, and it is clear that the industry’s biggest hitters are heading for a winner-take-all showdown in New York.

No New York gambling mecca

SLG has also used the Jay-Z headliner to nip a wrong perception in the bud, that the Caesars Palace Times Square casino project would be nothing but an oversized gaming pleasure dome. Instead, the New York Post cited SLG CEO Marc Holliday as saying the: “boutique-size casino […] would occupy only eight floors in the 54-story tower.”

Holliday also announced an approximately 800-room, five-star hotel at the site. This dovetails with SLG-Caesars getting onboard with certain aspects of the bidding criteria. Namely, that applicants will need to demonstrate to the New York state sitting committee how many quality jobs their gaming facility would create and how it would boost revenue for the locality and the state.

With Jay-Z now on board, the Caesars Palace Times Square bid has that entertainment X-factor base covered.