Jay-Z, Caesars in $250M Casino Bid Spurs Times Square Transformation


In the beating heart of New York, the steel canyons and headquarters of Broadway on Times Square, shines the spotlight on a prospective venture unlike any it has ever seen – a high-rolling casino hotel that could mark another chapter in the storied legacy of the district. This isn’t just another development project. The consortium behind this ambitious endeavor – an impressive entourage featuring Caesars Entertainment, real estate developer SL Green, and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment agency – is proposing a significant $250 million investment in the local neighborhood, a venture contingent on a successful acquisition of a coveted gaming license.

Promising much more than just a casino, the consortium plans to seed crucial environmental initiatives in both Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen. Alongside these green efforts, local small businesses too will bask in the attention with plans for extensive support measures.

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Reflecting an inclusive ethos, Brett Herschenfeld, Executive Vice President at SL Green, emphasized a rising tide lifts all ships. “We want everyone around us to win if we win,” Herschenfeld told the media, emphasizing the overarching aim to be a boon not just for big businesses, but the lifeblood of Times Square – its restaurants, mom-and-pop businesses, and more importantly, its residents.

Determined to clean up the glitzy neighborhood, a significant part of the consortium’s pledge involves sanitation upgrades, which encompasses thorough and more frequent sidewalk and street cleaning. Safeguarding scarce neighborhood park space is on their radar too, vowing to prioritize its protection.

However, this daring casino proposition isn’t without its opponents. This proposal emerges in the wake of increasing opposition from the No Times Square Casino Coalition. Three more organizations have recently joined the Coalition, underlining the importance of garnering local support for the casinopiece to ever become part of the Times Square puzzle.

A recent poll highlighted the uphill battle ahead, revealing a whopping 71% of respondents voicing their preference for a casino-free theater district. Moreover, 59% were staunchly against such a plan. Detractors argue that a casino could pose a significant threat to local restaurants and theater operators, as patrons could be tempted to stay indoors, entranced by games of chance, at the expense of the district’s vibrant art and cuisine scene.

Regardless, both Caesars and SL Green aim to counter the negatives with an optimistic outlook. Early 2023 was marked by the unveiling of a plan to integrate the renowned Caesars Rewards loyalty platform into various Times Square businesses – an attempt to dissuade opposition by demonstrating that customers could spend accrued points at local establishments.

In a show of confident commitment, SL Green stands ready to commence neighborhood improvements the moment the gaming license is secured, without the delay of waiting for the casino’s grand opening.

The consideration of environmental impacts weighs heavy on New York City’s projected casino ventures. Experienced in environmental reviews, SL Green is primed to bolster its green credentials in Times Square. This includes pledging financial assistance to the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a local composting center hit hard by budget cuts.

As suspense builds, the final verdict on the bid for New York’s gaming licenses isn’t expected until late 2025 or early 2026. With all eyes fixated on the potential arrival of a gaming giant in Times Square, it is a high-stakes drama that only time will resolve.