Coney Island Residents Not Buying What Casino Developers Selling

Posted on: February 14, 2024, 12:25h. 

Last updated on: February 14, 2024, 01:28h.

Coney Island residents who oppose allowing a commercial casino resort to come to the Brooklyn seaside community held a rally this week to voice their hostility to the project.

Coney Island casino Brooklyn New York
Coney Island is being targeted for a multibillion-dollar casino resort. However, some residents think a casino would do more harm than good. (Image: Shutterstock)

“Coney Islanders Against a Casino” is a grassroots coalition of area residents who don’t want a casino. They don’t believe the developers’ claims that such a resort would reinvigorate the seasonal beach town.

Attendees voiced concerns about gambling addiction, crime, and traffic congestion. Others expressed opinions challenging the economic and job benefits being floated by the casino group.

They say after decades of neglect we’re finally in line to get jobs. My question is, why was there neglect over so many decades? I think that was intentional to keep us in our place,” declared Linda Harrison, who is the president of the Haber Houses, a public housing project from the New York City Housing Authority. The Brooklyn Paper first reported Harrison’s remarks.

A consortium consisting of Global Gaming Solutions, the gaming subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, Saratoga Casino Holdings, New York real estate giant Thor Equities, and Legends Hospitality want to invest $3 billion in Coney Island to build an integrated resort casino. The venture targets roughly five acres located at Surf and Stillwell avenues that Thor has owned for years.

Societal Concerns

Dubbed “The Coney,” the developers say the casino would revitalize the area and return Coney Island to its glory days. More than 4,000 permanent jobs with good pay and benefits, tens of millions of dollars in annual new local tax revenue, and infrastructure upgrades are among the many benefits the developers say would come to the area if the casino is built.

However, during the casino opposition forum, opponents said those hyped benefits would come at a societal cost.

It’s going to destroy families,” said Erica Turner, who cofounded the organization. “I’ve seen gambling almost destroy my family. Everything we do [here] is geared toward families. We want to keep it family-centered.”

Casino officials say they, too, want to keep Coney Island as a family-friendly destination. During a recent interview with, Sam Gerrity, CEO of Saratoga Casino Holdings, said the development group is focused on fielding community input and addressing concerns.

“It’s always been our desire to engage with the community. That’s paramount for us,” Gerrity explained. “It’s a two-way street. It’s extremely helpful for them to educate us on their biggest concerns. The more we can engage, the more we reach mutual solutions.”

Gauging Community Opinion

The casino developers say they continue to gain support from area residents via door-to-door canvassing. The project secured the support of Community Board 11 in nearby Bensonhurst and Bath Beach. However, the Community Board that directly represents Coney Island — Community Board 13 — remains in opposition.

Only a couple dozen people attended the Coney Islanders Against a Casino meeting. An online petition on seeking signatures to oppose the project has garnered only 621 signatures, with a goal of 1,000. The petition was initiated nearly a year ago.

“We can bring immediate economic development to Coney Island,” Gerrity added. “Our area really needs a boost. The casino would bring in new businesses that would bolster the area as well.”