Times Square Casino Plan Gains Broad-Based Support

A controversial plan to bring a casino to New York City’s Times Square gained support from a recently formed group.

Times Square Casino
Times Square in New York City. A new coalition supports a plan to bring a casino to the area. (Image: Eater New York)

On Friday, the Coalition for a Better Times Square launched an effort to rejuvenate the entertainment district, endorsing a gaming venue in the process. The group is comprised of heater workers, musicians, small business owners, construction unions, hotel operators, and others.

In October, Caesars Entertainment announced it’s partnering with SL Green Realty on a redevelopment effort at 1515 Broadway in Times Square. The casino operator and the real estate investment trust (REIT) believe their project will ease traffic in Times Square while revitalizing the district’s economy, which is still ailing from the effects of New York lawmakers’ punitive coronavirus shutdown measures.

Times Square is the Crossroads of the World. Unfortunately, many tourists have yet to return and businesses still haven’t fully recovered from the impacts of the pandemic, which means lunchtime business is gone.” said Jeff Bank, of Alicart Restaurant Group, which runs several Times Square dining venues. “We need a new entertainment destination, like the facility proposed by SL Green and Caesars Entertainment, so we can bring our economy back and invest in needed safety, sanitation, and traffic flow.”

Earlier this month, Caesars and SL Green revealed that Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment agency is joining their group to bring a gaming property to the theater district.

Coalition Faces Plenty of Times Square Casino Opposition

While the sheer amount of stakeholders involved with the Coalition for a Better Times Square is impressive, it’s possible that depth will be needed to sway already entrenched opposition to the casino project.

Both the Broadway League and the Shubert Organization — the latter of which is the largest theater owner in the US — oppose the Times Square casino proposal. Those groups worry that a gaming venue won’t do anything to ameliorate traffic in the area and will compel visitors to remain in the casino placing bets rather than venturing out to see shows.

Shubert doesn’t oppose a casino in Manhattan, but it doesn’t want the property in Times Square. On a related note, there is opposition to a gaming property being constructed anywhere in Manhattan and that’s compelling operators evaluating entry into the New York to mull other locations.

SL Green believes a Times Square integrated resort would boost visits to the district by 7 million per year while increasing overnight stays at area hotels by 600,000.

Caesars Union Ties Highlighted

In a statement issued by the Coalition for a Better Times Square, Caesars, Roc Nation and SL Green noted they’re “proposing a New York project, not a Vegas project.” The Las Vegas-based gaming company brings some potentially important traits to the table, including extensive union relationships and the industry’s largest rewards program, which is comprised of more than 65 million members.

“A new gaming facility in Times Square would provide hundreds of well-paid, union jobs during both construction and operation,” said Mike Prohaska, Business Manager of the Mason Tenders’ District Council of Greater New York and Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79. “Caesars and SL Green both have strong pro-labor histories, and they have committed to minority hiring and apprenticeship programs that will open a pathway to the middle class for even more New Yorkers.”

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