The Coney Casino Developers Continue to Field Community Input

Posted on: January 22, 2024, 04:24h. 

Last updated on: January 22, 2024, 04:24h.

Despite a crowded field with globally recognized names, the development team behind The Coney remains confident about their odds of securing one of the three casino licenses allocated for New York’s downstate region.

The Coney casino New York
Coney Island and the Wonder Wheel pictured in winter. There aren’t many draws for visitors during the non-summer season, but a development group believes a casino resort would make the Brooklyn seaside community a year-round destination. (Image: Getty)

Global Gaming Solutions, the gaming subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, and Saratoga Casino Holdings are part of a consortium along with New York real estate giant Thor Equities and Legends Hospitality that’s ready to make a $3 billion bet on Brooklyn. Paul Pippin, chief operating officer of Global Gaming Solutions, and Saratoga CEO Sam Gerrity recently spoke with to discuss the latest on their multibillion-dollar integrated casino resort bid for New York City.

The executives believe their bid — which seeks to place a towering resort on the Coney Island Boardwalk at Surf and Stillwell avenues near the iconic Cyclone roller coaster and Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel — best satisfies the application conditions set forth by the New York Gaming Facility Location Board. The Board is tasked with fielding applications for the coveted licenses, which are to cost a one-time $500 million upfront fee.

We can bring immediate economic development to Coney Island,” Gerrity said. “Our area really needs a boost. The casino would bring in new businesses that would bolster the area as well.”

The Gaming Facility Location Board says it will select the three winners on a weighted scale consisting of four factors. Economic activity and business development is weighted 70%, while local impact siting, workforce enhancement, and diversity framework each account for 10%.

“Coney just makes sense,” Pippin said as it relates to the grading criteria. “When you look at the employment, the seasonality… we can completely reactivate the whole Boardwalk area into a new entertainment district. We can make it a truly destination resort again.”

Hearing Community Concerns

The Coney recently gained the first backing from a NYC Community Board with CB13. Though the board represents an adjacent neighborhood, Pippin and Gerrity said that the development team continues to field additional support for the project.

The executives told that gaining local input — both support and pushback — is a hallmark of how they go about developing a casino and integrating a gaming resort into a community.

We’re excited there’s momentum,” Pippin said of the Community Board 13 endorsement. Pippin said the group continues to update its bid based on the public’s contributions.

“We want to make sure we’re taking the feedback and addressing their concerns,” he said.

Those concerns are largely the typical worries that come with a possible new casino, including claims that gambling leads to higher incidences of crime, bankruptcy rates, higher rents, and increased property taxes.

It’s always been our desire to engage with the community. That’s paramount for us,” Gerrity added. “It’s a two-way street. It’s extremely helpful for them to educate us on their biggest concerns. The more we can engage, the more we reach mutual solutions.”

The casino developers say they’re strategizing ideas to counter other concerns, one being the claim that an integrated resort entraps guests. Pippen said an idea is allowing the casino’s loyalty program to be used at local businesses to encourage resort guests to patronize Coney Island’s established restaurants, shops, and Boardwalk vendors.

The Coney Brooklyn Community Board
A rendering of the proposed $3 billion casino project called The Coney. The development recently gained support from a Community Board in New York City. (Image: The Coney Casino & Resort)

As for congestion worries, Pippen and Gerrity said they’d work with the MTA upon receipt of a gaming license to establish express subway service and expand ferry routes to and from Coney Island.

As for jobs, the executives said Coney Island residents would be sought to fulfill many of the expected 4,000 new jobs that would come to the People’s Playground.

Bidding Process

There are expected to be around 10 bids for the three licenses. Many observers believe two of the licenses are already said for, as MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World NYC in Queens — both racinos that currently offer video lottery terminals — are considered the front-runners.

However, it’s not set in stone that the racinos will gain full-scale casino licenses that will permit Las Vegas-style slots, table games, and sports betting.

The bidders are awaiting the Gaming Facility Location Board’s responses to the agency’s second round of questions. Once the Board issues its responses, qualifying bids will have 30 days to formally submit their casino applications.

At the same time, each bid the Gaming Facility Location Board deems qualified will begin having its six-person Community Advisory Committee (CAC) formed, seats that are appointed by state and local government officials.

Each CAC will work with the casino developer to finalize the bid. CACs that ultimately vote against the project will be dismissed.

In New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) fiscal year 2025 budget plan, the governor expects the state to receive $1.5 billion from the issuance of the three downstate gaming licenses in 2024. She forecasts gaming tax revenue to surge between $231 million to $413 million a year once the three casinos are up and running, though those monies likely won’t be realized for several years.

However, if Empire City and Resorts World are two of the winners, the increased tax money could come quicker than it might with three from-the-ground-up developments.

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