Caesars Entertainment, Roc Nation Treat Times Square Residents to Eight-Hour Buffett

Posted on: October 17, 2023, 11:35h. 

Last updated on: October 18, 2023, 10:01h.

Caesars Entertainment is leading a consortium seeking to open an integrated casino resort at the “Crossroads of the World,” aka New York City’s Times Square.

Caesars Entertainment Times Square casino
Fat Joe helped Caesars Entertainment and Roc Nation host a free lunch and dinner buffet in New York City on Monday, October 16. The event was to win over support for a casino in Times Square. (Image: The Source)

Caesars’ partners in the proposed multibillion-dollar pitch include SL Green, a New York real estate investment trust that would lend its 1515 Broadway skyscraper to the project if it’s greenlit by state and local officials. The consortium additionally includes Roc Nation, the entertainment conglomerate owned by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.

Trying to woo over residents and local businesses, Caesars and Roc Nation hosted a free eight-hour lunch and dinner buffet on Monday. The only caveat for the free meals was that diners agreed to a quick sales pitch about why allowing Caesars to open a Las Vegas-style casino in Times Square would benefit the neighborhood.

The buffet was held at The Purple Tongue, a wine bar located two blocks west of Times Square at 410 W. 43rd St. Rapper Fat Joe, who is on the Roc Nation music label, was on hand at The Purple Tongue to greet guests and get out Caesars’ and Jay-Z’s word on why a casino makes sense.

“One thing about Roc Nation and Jay-Z is we keep our word,” said Fat Joe. “We are out here constantly giving back, showing New York we’re here for New York. We’re homegrown. We’re for the people.

Promoting Benefits

Caesars Entertainment is one of an expected dozen bids for the three downstate commercial casino licenses that the New York Gaming Facility Location Board will issue in 2024. The licenses were authorized through the state’s 2013 commercial casino bill. A 10-year moratorium on issuing the downstate licenses was included in the legislation signed into law by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

During Monday’s free lunch and dinner buffet, Caesars’ reps promoted the possible benefits of bringing a casino to reality. The company projects that a destination casino would generate $166 million in new annual retail spending in the neighborhood, increase Broadway ticket sales by $65 million a year, and create an additional 636K overnight room stays at local hotels.   

Caesars has also pledged to invest $115 million to strengthen diverse theater programs and provide daycare services for Broadway performers, workers, and their families.

Theatre Opposition

Caesars’ spending pledge to strengthen Broadway and the lives of its members is likely an effort to curb some opposition from the Theater District, which contends that a casino would poach business from the many restaurants that attendees frequent before and after shows.

One of the most outspoken opponents is Max Klimavicius, who owns the famed Sardi’s restaurant institution.

These restaurants are where families gather in joyful, pre-theater anticipation, where dates begin, and where dramas and musicals are discussed over dessert and a nightcap after the curtain comes down. ‘Dinner and a show’ are part of the lexicon of practically every New Yorker and visitor,” Klimavicius wrote earlier this year.

“No matter how much emphasis promoters try to place on glitz and glamour, a casino in Times Square has the potential to jeopardize the character of the Theater District and the fate of its restaurants,” Klimavicius concluded.