Theater, Women’s Groups Oppose Caesars Times Square Casino

Posted on: June 18, 2024, 01:14h. 

Last updated on: June 18, 2024, 02:01h.

The No Times Square Casino Coalition increased in size on Tuesday with the addition of theater and women’s groups, as well as the Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA).

Times Square Casino
Tourists in New York’s Times Square. Three groups joined the No Times Square Casino Coalition on Tuesday. (Image: Bloomberg)

In a statement, the coalition confirmed TDF (formerly the Theater Development Fund) and the New York City chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) are now among the groups opposing plans to bring a casino hotel to Times Square. The Times Square casino group is led by Caesars, real estate developer SL Green, and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment agency.

CCBA, NOW, and TDF joining the No Times Square Casino Coalition comes about a month after a poll revealed that 71% of those surveyed don’t want a gaming venue in the theater district, and 59% strongly oppose the plan. Other polls indicate some local businesses and residents have positive views on a Caesars casino potentially calling Times Square home.

With CCBA, NOW, and TDF in the fold, the No Times Square Casino Coalition is now comprised of more than two dozen entities, including community groups, restaurants, and a church.

To Some, Times Square Casino Doesn’t Make Sense

Caesars and SL Green have work to do to foster confidence in the casino effort among Times Square locals and politicians. There are concerns that a gaming venue would stoke more crime and be a traffic problem for an already congested area.

New York’s unique attractions define our cultural identity and are the foundations of our economic vitality,” said Sally Greenspan, President of The Council of Chelsea Block Associations, in the statement. “New Yorkers and people from across the country and the world come to enjoy Times Square; our Broadway shows, the lights, the music, the restaurants, the streetscape. What is the rationale to introduce an industry that could cannibalize the very essence of Times Square? Placing a casino in a unique, thriving commercial district like Times Square makes no sense.”

Caesars and SL Green are attempting to allay concerns that a gaming venue in Times Square would cannibalize other businesses in the area. Those opposed to the casino believe it would keep guests inside at the tables and slot machines, reducing their desire to go out within the neighborhood to have dinner and see Broadway shows.

To that end, Caesars promised to link its Caesars Rewards program to some small businesses in Times Square and SL Green estimates that a Times Square casino will drive more than seven million additional meals purchased at local restaurants while boosting Broadway ticket sales by more than $65 million annually.

NOW Has Other Concerns

Developing a new casino hotel is like any other commercial or residential real estate project. It’s all about location and, while there is some merit in attempting to bring a gaming venue to one of the most bustling areas of the biggest city in the US, there may be unintended consequences.

As NOW NYC President Sonia Ossorio pointed out, Times Square is near a major transportation hub, and adding a casino there could spark more sex-related crime.

“I know a casino on top of Times Square and in close proximity to the Port Authority Bus Terminal would be a magnet for human trafficking and the sex trade. I am proud to join the people who live in this community, know it best, and share that same concern,” she said in the statement.