Posted on: November 28, 2022, 02:54h. 

Last updated on: November 28, 2022, 05:13h.

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso (D) is lending his early support for a casino resort on Coney Island. That’s because he believes such a development would likely help revitalize the seaside town.

Brooklyn casino New York Coney Island
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso supposes a casino resort on Coney Island would play a major role in revitalizing the seaside town. And because of the economic benefits, Reynoso says the borough should strongly consider embracing the possible development. (Image: Borough of Brooklyn)

Coney Island is located in Brooklyn’s southwestern section. It’s been many decades since the neighborhood prospered as an entertainment destination. Coney Island’s best years were during the first half of the 20th century, when its amusement parks and hotels regularly attracted tourists during the warmer months.

Coney Island’s popularity began declining after World War II. The town today is home to higher unemployment and poverty rates than much of the rest of New York City. And Coney Island’s median household income of only $30,425 is less than half of the national average of $65,000.

Casino Backstory

New York’s commercial gaming bill, passed in 2013, provided a 10-year exclusivity for the four commercial casinos upstate that the legislation authorized. The moratorium on downstate casinos expires in 2023.

By holding off on licensing the three downstate casino licensing opportunities, lawmakers believed interest in the upstate resorts would be more robust. The thinking was that forcing downstate residents to travel upstate to gamble on a Las Vegas-style slot machine or table game would help the four upstate casinos solidify their customer bases and establish the casinos as marquee resort destinations.

The four upstate casinos have failed to meet their premarket revenue expectations and business could worsen in the coming years once the downstate casinos open.

The 2023 New York casino bidding war is already well underway. With Resorts World New York City in Queens and Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway heavily favored for two concessions, only one permit is expected to be available for bidding.

New York Mets billionaire owner Steve Cohen has partnered with Hard Rock International for an integrated resort scheme targeting vacant property adjacent to the team’s Citi Field MLB ballpark. Another hedge fund billionaire, Stephen Ross, is rumored to be mulling a casino scheme near his Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side.

And then there’s the long shot, Stefan Soloviev, the billionaire heir of the late Sheldon Solow, who has expressed interest in building a casino on six acres of prime midtown Manhattan real estate he owns near the United Nations.

New York’s newly formed Gaming Facility Location Board next year will begin reviewing applications from interested casino developers.

Betting on a Casino

A casino consortium was recently announced targeting Coney Island for a downstate New York gaming resort. Thor Equities, a real estate development, leasing, and management firm, has partnered with Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation, and the hospitality firm Legends for the undertaking.

The group is reportedly ready to invest upwards of $3 billion should the state authorize the project. Reynoso says that’s exactly what Coney Island needs.

Citing Coney Island as having one of the highest unemployment rates in all of Brooklyn, the borough president says a resort of such magnitude could return the city to its glory days when between five to 10 million people visited the seaside town each year.

The economic development opportunities that existed when Coney Island had five million, 10 million visitors per summer is not happening anymore,” Reynoso told PIX11 News.

“So, if there’s an opportunity to revitalize Coney Island, I want to entertain the idea,” Reynoso concluded.