Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Asks New Yorkers To Support Times Square Casino

Jay-Z has 99 problems, but a Times Square casino ain’t one. If the Roc Nation (RN) founder gets his way, the bid for Caesars Palace Times Square  will win a coveted New York downstate casino license. In a recent open letter, RN argued the benefits of the Times Square proposal and urged public support.

“This is too important of a moment in our city’s illustrious history,” the letter explained.

Times Square, the epicenter of entertainment with a palpable energy, is unmatched. Roc Nation and our partners are here to ensure Times Square remains connected to all facets of culture. There’s no better location for a Caesars Palace entertainment destination than the Crossroads of the World.

The proposed project would be a collaboration between Caesars Entertainment and real estate developer SL Green. RN’s letter also touted various community benefits the casino would bring, including $115 million to support diverse theatre programs.

Roc Nation on New York Times Square Casino Bid: “It’s Time”

Roc Nation kept things short and sweet as it opened its plea with the decisive caps-lock proclamation, “IT’S TIME, TIMES SQUARE.”

However, the entertainment giant had more to say about who should get a New York Downstate license.

The winning group must have a track record of turning words into deeds—of putting New York City and its residents first—people of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and socio-economic statuses.

New Yorkers in every corner of every borough – all of us. The winning organization must have a history of campaigning for fair hiring, representation, and reform. Hate, as well as groups that have a history of oppressing the most vulnerable, have no place in New York.

The winning licensee must always put the well-being of New Yorkers at the top of their agenda and do right by its residents.

To boost its case, the letter outlined a plan to attract new tourists and improve life for everyday New Yorkers.

Many details of how the community benefits will play out remain undisclosed. Although the team has announced an extension of Caesars Rewards benefits to surrounding businesses.

However, according to the letter, if chosen, the Times Square proposal will:

  • Give back to nearby businesses.
  • Benefit mass transit and produce a much-needed transportation plan
  • Invest in sanitation and security (from the bowtie into Hell’s Kitchen)
  • Protect Broadway interests
  • Provide equitable opportunities

The letter continued:

Caesars Palace Times Square will benefit all of New York— the hotel and restaurant workers in the area, retailers and surrounding neighborhoods. Our bid commits $115 million for diverse theater programs that include daycare for Broadway workers and their families.

Broadway Coalition Opposes Times Square Casino Plan

Despite Roc Nation’s evident enthusiasm for the Caesars Palace Times Square proposal, not everyone is as keen.

A coalition of Broadway theatre owners, producers, community and tenant organizations, and famous theatre district watering holes is saying no to the Times Square casino.

The No Times Square Casino coalition has pledged opposition to the proposed Times Square development.

According to its website, the coalition believes the casino is a bad bet.

A casino, it argues, would worsen traffic congestion, disrupt the economy and lead to social harm. Consequently, the coalition has urged state officials to reject the Times Square proposal.

In a letter to its members last year, coalition member the Broadway League wrote:

Far from driving customers to neighboring businesses, the way theaters do a Times Square casino would draw customers away from existing area restaurants, many of which are small businesses and constitute an integral part of the Broadway ecosystem.

Every dollar spent at the craps table, roulette wheel or slot machine is a dollar not spent on a play, dinner, or a souvenir.

Open Letter Urges New Yorkers to Honor “City of Dreams”

However, others in the neighborhood support the Times Square casino development.

A competing group, Coalition for a Better Times Square, boasts an impressive member list, including the Actors’ Equity Association. The union cites new job potential as a primary benefit to a casino in Times Square.

Notably, partners Roc Nation, Caesars Entertainment, and SL Green appear to have established the coalition.

Of course, Marc Holliday, SL Green’s CEO, would agree.

“We believe that Times Square offers the best location for a new resort casino that can attract tourists and benefit local businesses,” said Holliday when the project was first announced last year.

We’re excited to pursue this license with Caesars and our many local partners. Our approach will ensure that under-represented communities benefit both in terms of employment and investment opportunities.

Competition to land a New York downstate casino license is heating up ahead of New York State’s Gaming Facility Location Board’s expected review of applications later this year.

Opposing bids have proposed casinos at multiple sites, including Coney Island, Citi Field, and the Nassau Coliseum.

But, with this open letter, Roc Nation has attempted to sway public opinion to get ahead of the competition.

Our bid honors the city of dreams, New York City, and the people that have made this place we call home the cultural and entertainment capital of the world. This is our moment, our opportunity to capture the energy of Times Square and invest in our city. You’re a New Yorker, you get it.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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