Jay-Z’s Casino Plans for Times Square Face Public Backlash

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A prominent development group, featuring amongst its ranks the hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur Jay-Z, has met a ground-swell of resistance from local voters against its ambitious plans to build an integrated casino resort in New York’s iconic Times Square. The group, which also includes global casino titan Caesars and well-known property developer SL Green, hopes to introduce an exhilarating gaming ambience to one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. These plans, however, now hang in an uneasy balance, with a recent poll showing that a considerable 71% of the populace stands in vehement opposition to the proposed venture. To add salt to the wound, a substantial 59% express that they “strongly oppose” it, with a mere 23% in favor of their city playing host to such an establishment.

This adamant aversion, conducted by Tulchin Research, is notably rooted across all major demographics, manifesting an even stronger presence amongst the female voters and those above the age of 55. A striking 77% of women and 81% of seniors oppose the casino project, with 62% and 68% respectively asserting their strong opposition.

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The proposal seems to be just as unpalatable to the male demographic. The poll reveals that a hefty 65% of Times Square’s male residents reject the idea of their neighborhood hosting a gaming arena. This sentiment resonates especially in the young-adult to middle-age group of 18 to 54 years – an essential age bracket for the casino industry – where 63% disapprove.

On dissecting the reasons behind the cold reception, traffic and crime emerge as prevalent concerns. With Times Square already grappling with high congestion, 81% of voters are convinced that a casino would further exacerbate the traffic situation. Moreover, 80% foresee a potential crime wave following the casino’s establishment and believe it could detract from the neighborhood’s charm and appeal.

Drawing parallel sentiments, a recent poll by the Situation Group uncovered that affluent suburbanites over 55 are increasingly wary of venturing into Times Square for Broadway shows, citing a perceived surge in crime. The projected impact on Broadway isn’t lost on the surveyed either; 65% believe a casino resort could take a toll on Broadway theatres, and 64% see it affecting small local businesses, restaurants included.

In response, Caesars and SL Green have endeavored to address the concerns, asserting last year that local businesses would be integrated into Caesars Rewards to drive casino customers towards these establishments.

However, Tulchin’s polling indicates that only a faint 9% of voters consider Times Square the apt choice for a casino hotel, with a paltry 12% favoring casino establishments anywhere in New York City.

Underlying this rejection could be a broader anti-casino sentiment in New York, with a whole 49% against any new casinos in the city. That said, 24% would accept a gaming venue elsewhere in the city, just not in Times Square.

As it stands, in the impending scramble for gaming venues in the Big Apple, other industry heavyweights like Wynn Resorts join Caesars in considering Manhattan, whereas the outer boroughs and neighboring counties have caught the eye of other potential players. The question remains: will Times Square see a roll of the dice, or will the house not win this round? Only time will tell.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.