Broadway group doubles down on Times Square casino opposition

Broadway group doubles down on Times Square casino opposition

A group of Broadway theater owners and producers is leading an effort to lower the curtain on plans for a Times Square casino.

The Broadway League, a theater industry trade group, is joining forces with local restaurant owners to block a bid for a new gambling hub nearby. The group, called the "No Times Square Casino” Community Coalition, says that visitors to the slots and tables would stay indoors instead of venturing out to eat, drink or catch a show.

“Casinos are built to keep visitors inside their doors as long as possible, patronizing their own restaurants, shops and entertainment venues — at the expense of the 90,000-plus jobs nearby businesses support,” the new group wrote on its website.

The coalition includes Times Square Church, Italian eatery Orso and the famed restaurant Sardi’s. Its members say a new gambling and entertainment complex would “prey on vulnerable populations” and increase congestion at one of the world’s busiest intersections.

“No matter how much emphasis promoters try to place on glitz and glamour, a casino in Times Square has the potential to unravel the fabric of the theater district and jeopardize the fate of its restaurants,” Sardi’s owner Max Klimavicius said in a statement.

The high rollers behind the casino bid say the theater group is being dramatic.

Gaming empire Caesars Entertainment is partnering with SL Green Realty, New York City’s largest commercial landlord, on the proposal to build a Las Vegas-style casino at 1515 Broadway near West 45th Street. It’s one of at least eight bids for three lucrative New York City casino licenses approved by the state last year.

Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said the casino would be “an economic engine for both Times Square and Broadway.”

“At the core of our vision for this project is the idea that our guests will flow directly from our five-star boutique hotel, gaming floor, sportsbook and entertainment destination into the existing vibrant entertainment and culinary community in and around Times Square,” Reeg said.

Both companies have enlisted support from local restaurants, including nearby Brooklyn Diner, Carmine’s and Nobu.

The local voices could influence final decision-making. State rules require any casino bid to receive majority support from a six-member community advisory panel before moving to a gaming commission review.

A new casino won’t come cheap. New York will charge $500 million for each license and require the winning bidders to dish out another $500 million in capital investments. That’s in addition to development costs.

But the competition is fierce for the unprecedented opportunity to bring baccarat and roulette wheels to the biggest city in the U.S.

Billionaire Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, is backing a bid for a casino next to Citi Field. Related Companies and Wynn Resorts have proposed a casino at Hudson Yards. And Las Vegas Sands wants to build a gambling complex at Nassau Coliseum, the former home of the New York Islanders.

Resorts World Casino in Queens and Empire City Casino in Yonkers currently operate slot machines and horse racing tracks. They are widely expected to win two of the new casino licenses.