Until now, each of the entities looking to bid for one of the three New York City-area casino licenses being dangled by the state gaming commission has operated largely in the shadows, making back-channel deals to advance their project.
Now, one of the boldest plans yet has gone public. Related Companies, developer of Hudson Yards in Midtown Manhattan, has announced a plan to bid for one of the licenses along with partner Wynn Resorts and add a Las Vegas-style casino next to the Javits Center.
Hudson Yards, which represents the largest mixed-use private real estate development in U.S. history, would check a lot of boxes for New York leaders looking to maximize the bang for the buck by locating the new casino in densely populated and tourist-drawing Manhattan.
Third license up for grabs
The gaming commission has until next month to create a board that will manage the application process, and bids might not be considered until months later. The bidding process is supposed to begin within 90 days of the formation of the location board.
Among the competing bids is an effort by Steven Cohen, owner of the Mets, to team with Hard Rock for a casino near Citi Field, but that project could run into obstacles given its proximity to Aqueduct, current zoning laws, and the potential for a troublesome environmental impact report from the high concentration of automotive repair shops in the area.
The Yankees, too, could benefit from one of the competing plans. They own 20% of Legend Hospitality, which is looking to team with Thor Equities to build a casino in Coney Island.
Political opposition could be staunch
The first phase of the Hudson Yards development included a luxury mall, office towers, and condominiums that opened in 2019. The current project would be situated in the western part of Hudson Yards, which currently has active train lines and would require building a platform above the tracks.
Though Manhattan has many advantages as a casino location, politicians from the borough have been hesitant to embrace a major brick-and-mortar casino in the area. That could make the composition of the six-person community advisory committee a key factor. Mayor Eric Adams will have representation on the committee, as will Gov. Kathy Hochul, the local city council member, the borough president, and the local Assembly member and state senator.
Jeff T. Blau, chief executive of Related Companies, and Stephen M. Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins and chairman of Related Companies, have been generous donors to Hochul’s campaign. Adams, according to The New York Times, has close ties to Cohen, who helped bankroll a PAC that supported his candidacy in the 2021 Democratic primary. Adams has indicated he wants at least two of the downstate casinos built in New York City.