Queens Civic Congress Against Citi Field Casino Plan

Just days after New York opened the request for application (RFA) process for three downstate casino permits, a major civic group in the borough of Queens said it doesn’t want a gaming venue coming to the Willets Point area near Citi Field.

Queens casino
Queens casino
Citi Field in Queens, New York. Civic groups don’t want a casino near the stadium. (Image: Getty Images)

The Save Flushing Meadows Corona Park coalition, which is comprised of the more than 60 members of the Queens Civic Congress, said Thursday it opposes a casino near the home Major League Baseball’s (MLB) New York Mets.

Our message to state legislators is: Our parkland is irreplaceable. It is not for sale,” Queens Civic Congress President Warren Schreiber told the Queens Chronicle. “Contrary to what would-be casino owners may say, public parkland is not ‘developable property,’ and it must never be viewed as such.”

The opposition to the Queens casino idea arrived four days in advance of a “visioning session” to be conducted at Citi Field by an entity known as New Green Willets LLC, which was formed in 2021 by Mets owner Steve Cohen.

Queens Casino No Sure Bet

New York is allowing three casinos in the downstate region, but in essence, two of the licenses may already be spoken for by MGM Resorts’ Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World New York City (RWNY) in Queens.

That means several developers and gaming operators are likely vying for a single license and the less opposition they face to those efforts, it’s possible the odds of emerging victorious shorten. In the case of the Queens casino gambit, there’s obviously opposition and Willets Point has a reputation for being tough to develop.

Cohen’s plans to develop the unused 50 acres by Citi Field, comprised mostly of asphalt, include more than a gaming venue. The statement announcing the vision session doesn’t explicitly mention a casino — “entertainment destination “ is the phrase used — but it is clear in noting plans for green space, park areas and enhanced areas for biking and walking.

Cohen’s desire to bring a casino to space near the stadium isn’t a secret. He reportedly wooed local politicians, including Mayor Eric Adams (D), and is believed to have held talks with operators such as Hard Rock International and Las Vegas Sands with the former believed to be his preferred partner.

Queens Casino Not Only Plan Opposed

As the New York casino competition heats up, it’s becoming clear that not all neighborhoods are in favor of the plan. In fact, as is the case in Queens, some are stridently opposed to it.

For example, Caesars Entertainment and real estate developer SL Green want to bring a gaming venue to Times Square — a proposal that’s drawing the ire of multiple theater groups and local businesses. Those groups fear a casino won’t mean increased traffic for restaurants and shows, but rather keep tourists inside and betting. Some local leaders in Queens have similar fears regarding Citi Field casino idea.

Las Vegas Sands is said to be mulling a gaming project in Nassau County while Wynn Resorts is partnering with Related Cos. to bring a similar venue to the second phase of the Hudson Yards project. To date, opposition to those proposals is scant to non-existent.

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