The rumored plan for a Coney Island casino became reality on Tuesday, and Thor Equities is bringing some experienced gaming businesses in for their bid. That includes a couple of other companies with New York ties.
On Tuesday, Saratoga Casino Holdings, The Chickasaw Nation, and Legends officially joined forces with the New York-based development firm. They hope to take the one-time “Playground of the World” and transform the Brooklyn neighborhood known for its amusement park into a year-round attraction. They expect to invest more than $3 billion in the project if it’s approved.
“New York will always be our home, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to reclaim Coney Island’s legacy and bring new economic possibilities to an iconic neighborhood… Together we have the track record across development, operations, gaming, entertainment, and job creation that is best suited to bring Coney Island security and vitality for the next century,” Thor Equities Group Chairman Joe Sitt said in a statement.
The application window for a new casino in New York has not opened yet. Last month, the New York State Gaming Commission appointed the first members of the siting board that will ultimately decide on up to three casinos. That move triggered a 90-day clock to release the request for applications solicitation.
The board is expected to award licenses to casino projects in or around New York City.
In recent weeks, proposals have been announced or rumored for other parts of New York City, including Times Square, Hudson Yards, Staten Island, and Willets Point. Besides those, at least two existing video lottery terminal (VLT) casinos – MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct in Queens – are also expected to apply.
Meet Thor Equities’ Partners
Saratoga Casino Holdings is an upstate New York company that operates a VLT racino in Saratoga Springs, as well as the Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Mississippi and Saratoga Casino Black Hawk in Colorado. It currently operates more than 175,000 square feet of gaming space at those venues.
Meanwhile, the Chickasaw Nation’s Global Gaming Solutions division runs more than 25,000 electronic games. Its signature facility is the WinStar World Casino and Resort, considered the largest casino in the world.
Legends was initially created as a joint venture between two iconic sports franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees. It will serve as the entertainment partner of the venture.
Global Gaming Board Chairman Bill Lance noted his company already works with Legends at WinStar.
Our investment and involvement in this project reflects a desire to expand that relationship and extend it to additional strategic partners in Thor and Saratoga,” Lance said. “We look forward to a successful collaboration based on our combined strengths and perhaps most importantly – our shared commitment to develop a top-tier entertainment venue that promises to respect the history of the neighborhood and breathe new life into this iconic New York City landmark. We look forward to taking our partnership with Legends – a known and trusted entity in New York – to even greater heights.”
The partners say their plan will not incorporate any taxpayer funds, and anticipate 2,500 construction jobs being created as a result. The casino itself would also create “thousands of permanent” jobs and include opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, they added. They also want to create a job training program to hire Brooklyn and Queens residents for hospitality and gaming positions.
Brooklyn Businesses Back Plan
The proposal does enjoy support from the local business community.
“This project will finally stimulate our local economy in a way that turns Coney Island into a year-round destination,” Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers said. “Most importantly, it will create all-year full-time employment for our local residents who can grow their career and serve the community they grew up.”
However, there’s still a ways to go before anyone puts a shovel in the dirt on the project.
Before the Coney Island proposal – or any casino proposal – goes before the state siting board, it must first win two-thirds approval from a local board. For the Coney Island casino, the board will include the local New York City Council member, the state Assembly member, and the state Senate member representing the neighborhood. It will also include the Brooklyn borough president and representatives picked by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The Gaming Commission does not expect to make any license awards until sometime next year at the earliest.
Whatever projects are approved for licenses will have to pay a minimum of $500 million and maybe more for the casino license.
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