Caesars Entertainment proposes casino in Times Square

Hailey Chin

Caesars Entertainment Inc. announced on Oct. 20 that it plans to expand its casino business to New York City.

New York will open the bidding for licenses to operate three full-gaming casinos in the five boroughs and in their surrounding counties.

Although state legislators legalized casinos in New York in 2013, it was stipulated that such facilities would not be allowed to open until 2023 or later. Legislators allocated four licenses to four upstate casinos, which are currently operating, and designating three for downstate facilities.

This opportunity became a once in a lifetime chance for casinos since New York City is an area left untouched by casino giants. Caesars is among the casino giants hoping to get one of the three bids.

SL Green Realty Corp. and Caesars announced in a press release that they are partnering to turn 1515 Broadway into “a premiere entertainment and gaming destination in the heart of Times Square, one of the most visited destinations in the world.”

“Caesars is thrilled to partner with SL Green in connection with a five-star project,” Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said in a press statement, adding that it “will meet and exceed New Yorkers’ expectations for world-class entertainment, immediately enhancing New York City’s tourism engine and elevating this one-of-a-kind global destination to new heights.”

Within this location is the Palladium Times Square theater, the Line Friends New York Times Square Store and a Skechers retail location. The location itself, 1515 Broadway, is owned by SL Green. It also houses a 54-story office tower  that currently serves as the Viacom headquarters, which is owned by Paramount Global, and  is home to the Minskoff Theatre, which hosts the musical production of “The Lion King.”

Due to the economic benefits that would come with the addition of the casino, many people are in support of Caesars plans.

“It is time for us to reinvest again,” Jeffrey Bank, who is the CEO of the restaurant group that operates Carmine’s Italian Restaurant and Virgil’s Real Barbecue, told ABC7NY. “Times Square is the beating heart of New York, but everyone in Times Square is still hurting from the pandemic. The Caesars Palace proposal is the key to bringing tourists back, making Times Square safer, and is exactly the economic driver we need to not only recover but continue to grow and create more jobs.”

Caesars gained the approval of the Actors’ Equity Association, a union for Broadway performers, and former New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton, who believed that the casino would also increase security in the bustling area.

“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,” the Actors’ Equity Association told Politico.

However, the addition of a casino may also stifle existing businesses by overwhelming the already crowded Times Square area.

“The Broadway League does not endorse a casino in Times Square,” the Broadway Theatre League said in a statement obtained by Playbill. “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.”

Caesars Entertainment, which has over 50 properties, is known for “having it all,” according to its website. From entertainment and dining to shopping and gaming, Caesars calls itself “a true leader in the gaming world” with its locations, amenities, entertainment and accommodations.

Caesars’ revenue for the 12 months — which ended on June 30 — was $10.4 billion. This is approximately a 42% increase year over year, according to research platform Macrotrends.

As Caesars maintains its record of revenue, the addition of a location in New York may add to the company’s success.

The two other casino groups bidding for downstate licenses include MGM Resorts International and Genting Group-owned Resorts World, which both own horse racetrack-based gaming terminals in Yonkers and Queens respectively.