Times Square, the heart of New York City’s Broadway district, could possibly – possibly being the operative word – gain a glitzy new attraction in the years ahead: The owners of Caesars Palace are proposing the construction of a casino in a neighborhood where monetary risks are typically measured by what succeeds on the theatrical stage.
The New York Times is reporting today that developer SL Green Realty Corporation and Caesars Entertainment are “actively trying to enlist local restaurants, retailers and construction workers in joining a pro-casino coalition, as the companies aim to secure one of three new casino licenses in the New York City area approved by state legislators earlier this year.”
As the Times notes, the arrival of a casino would have “enormous implications for Times Square,” with some of Broadway’s current and biggest players seeing either increased competition or a boon for tourism and new money.
The proposed casino would be located in the SL Green skyscraper at 1515 Broadway, near West 44th Street, a building that also houses Broadway’s long-running musical The Lion King.
In a statement obtained by Deadline, the Broadway League – the trade organization representing theater owners and producers – said it opposes the concept.
“The Broadway League does not endorse a casino in Times Square,” the League says. “The addition of a casino will overwhelm the already densely congested area and would jeopardize the entire neighborhood whose existence is dependent on the success of Broadway. Broadway is the key driver of tourism and risking its stability would be detrimental to the City.”
But another important Broadway organization takes the opposite stance: Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing actors and stage managers, says a casino could make the district, troubled by a recent rise in street crime, safer. (The developers have pledged to use some of the gambling revenues to fund sanitation and safety improvements, including the deployment of new surveillance drones. )
“The proposal from the developer for a Times Square Casino would be a game changer that boosts security and safety in the Times Square neighborhood with increased security staff, more sanitation equipment and new cameras,” Equity says in a statement. “We applaud the developer’s commitment to make the neighborhood safer for arts workers and audience members alike.”
How the casino proposal will play out is anyone’s guess – the Times quotes State Sen. Brad Hoylman, whose district includes Times Square, as saying the Broadway League’s “clout” is crucial and “if they’re opposing this proposal, I don’t see how it proceeds.”
Either way, out-of-state gamblers probably shouldn’t be booking their flights to New York just yet. The website of the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board notes that no determinations will be made or licenses issued for new casinos until sometime in 2023 at the earliest. The words “at the earliest” are underlined.