Saks Fifth Avenue will be among the competitors bidding for one of New York City’s three available casino licenses.
With gambling legalization becoming commonplace across the United States, New York City is looking to become the next casino hotspot. Numerous outlets have confirmed the luxury department store’s intentions to bid. If chosen, this would allow Saks Fifth Avenue to build and run its own full-scale casino, which would include table games.
According to the New York Times, Saks hopes to convert the top three floors of its 10-story structure. The building has been the company’s flagship location since 1924, and its 5th Avenue address provides the brand with its name. The casino would have 200,000 square feet of floor space and its own lobby, separate from that of the famous store.
Hudson’s Bay Company, which owns the chain, has released 3D renderings showing its plans for the casino.
Business Insider quotes a source at the company as saying:
The Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store is a staple of one of the most iconic streets in Manhattan. It is of particular importance to us that we continue to invest in the vibrancy and spirit of Fifth Avenue itself.
Competition is Fierce for Downstate Licenses
Of course, Saks Fifth Avenue is one of many players in the mix for a New York City casino. Saks Fifth Avenue will be up against other contenders like Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets. Cohen seeks to build a casino close to Citi Field in partnership with Hard Rock International.
Another hopeful is developer Thor Equities. It placed a bid for a Coney Island casino through a multi-way partnership. The other parties to that bid are Chickasaw Nation, which operates several casinos across the US; Legends, an entertainment company with connections to the New York Yankees; and Saratoga Casino Holdings, which owns and operates a racetrack close to Albany.
Wynn Resorts and the Related Companies are also seeking a casino license for a potential location in Hudson Yards.
But none of these efforts has attracted as much attention as the proposed Caesars Palace Times Square. Back in October, SL Green Realty Corp., a real estate investment trust, announced its intentions to collaborate with Caesars Entertainment for a full-fledged casino in Times Square. Several celebrities are also involved in the bid, including boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and rapper Jay-Z.
Upstate Casinos Got a Head Start
In 2013, New York passed legislation to allow commercial casino gaming in the state. However, it initially limited this to four upstate casino licenses while keeping three downstate licenses in reserve. The idea was to allow the upstate locations a 10-year head start before competing with the sure-to-be-massive New York City market.
Now, that ten-year grace period has elapsed. In April 2022, state legislators authorized the start of the process to award the three downstate licenses. The state’s Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB) officially started taking bids on Jan 3, 2023. However, the rumor mill had been grinding away for months before then.
Each license requires a minimum bid of $500 million and a commitment to invest at least another $500 million in construction. The state will announce winners later this year.
The GFLB has multiple things to consider in making its selections. These include how many jobs each project would create, prospective casino income/revenue, and a commitment to working with minority and women-owned businesses. All prospective casinos must commit to providing every employee with a living wage.
Existing Casino Options in New York State
The four upstate commercial casinos are Del Lago Resort & Casino, Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady, and Tioga Downs Casino Resort.
There are also seven tribal casinos and eight racinos in the state. The former are independently regulated by the tribes and don’t follow the same licensing procedures as the commercial casinos. Racinos are a more limited form of commercial casino. Unlike full commercial casinos, they can only offer slots and electronic table games. The main difference for the full casinos is that they can also include table games with human dealers.
Two of the racinos are in the New York City area: Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and Resorts World New York City. Both have expressed an interest in upgrading to a full casino license if possible.