Jay-Z and his entertainment company, Roc Nation, feels that it’s time that New York City’s Times Square has a casino. Roc Nation is working with Caesars Entertainment and SL Green, a Manhattan real estate company, to make this happen.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter says in a statement on Roc Nation’s website that New York is a lighthouse and the center of culture. “We have the chance to make a place to go in the middle of Times Square, which is the real crossroads of the world. This coalition, which is made up of my partnership with SL Green and Caesars, is all about creating economic opportunities, growth, and enrichment for the community and for everyone who visits the Empire State.”
The partnership wants to build a “state-of-the-art gaming facility” at 1515 Broadway, which is the same building that houses Disney’s long-running musical The Lion King. This could potentially start as early as next year when the state’s gaming authorities decide on possible gaming licenses and locations.
The statement says that the coalition “brings together three best-in-class organizations—New York’s largest owner of office properties, the nation’s leading gaming company, and the world’s preeminent entertainment company—to deliver a crucial plan for the world’s top tourist destination.”
The Broadway League, a trade group for theater owners and producers, quickly and strongly opposed the plan. This was in contrast to the Actors’ Equity Association and other labor unions, which supported the casino plan.
In a letter to its members last month, the League said that it still didn’t want a casino. It said that, with the exception of Las Vegas, casinos don’t bring in tourists and depend mostly on local gamblers, and that casinos are built to keep customers inside their own walls.
“Unlike theatres, which bring customers to nearby shops and restaurants,” the League wrote, “a Times Square casino would take customers away from nearby restaurants, many of which are small businesses that are an important part of the Broadway ecosystem.” “Every dollar spent at the craps table, roulette wheel, or slot machine is a dollar not spent on a play, dinner, or souvenir,” the letter to members said.
The casino coalition, which has Roc Nation as its “official entertainment partner,” disagrees. In the announcement on the Roc Nation website, the partners say that a Caesars Palace Times Square would bring more than 7 million new visitors to the area every year and add tens of millions of dollars to local businesses like the theater industry.
The partners have also come up with a membership reward plan that lets casino customers use credits for Broadway shows, local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area.
But the coalition also includes a sort of disclaimer in its statement, warning readers not to put too much stock in “forward-looking” claims because they “are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may be materially different from those anticipated in such statements.”
Equity, the union for actors and stage managers, supported the plan and they called it a “game changer” that would not only create jobs but also make the area safer, since the developers have promised to use some of the money from gambling to pay for improvements to cleanliness and safety, such as the use of new surveillance drones. The developer’s commitment to making the neighborhood safer for both artists and patrons is something the union praised.