Throwing Around Money Won’t Guarantee Cohen Gets His Casino

Citi Field. By Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA – Citi Field, CC BY 2.0,

From his time as owner of the New York Mets, Steve Cohen can vouch for the fact that throwing a lot of money at a problem is no guarantee of success. The Mets have invested millions in superstar players to boost his team’s chances of winning the World Series and it hasn’t paid dividends.

For example, in recent years, he brought in two Cy Young Award-winning pitchers in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, only to see it fail spectacularly.

Cohen appears to be willing to take the same approach in his bid to land a retail casino to be situated next to Citi Field in Willets Point. Just a couple of months ago, Cohen sought to sweeten his bid by throwing some cash at it.

Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management put forth a proposal for a $1 billion boost that would be part of the $8 billion investment designated for the creation of Metropolitan Park on the 61 acre area.

The overall plan would include the usage of 20 acres of park space and five acres of public fields. The $1 billion is being pledged to making commitments to community investment for the area.

The community investment component would feature health care investments, legal aid for immigration and programs for both youth and senior groups.

“We have learned through three years of conversations with the people who live and work in Queens that serving the interests of the communities surrounding Citi Field must be at the center of this project,” Cohen said in a statement. “Committing over $1 billion in benefits and transit improvement is critical to achieving a shared vision for the area we can all be proud of.”

According to a report from QNS, the community investment would feature a $10 million investment into a health clinic in East Elmhurst. A similar amount would be designated for a youth and senior center in Corona. As well, the plan calls for $5 million to be spent on an addiction and mental health counseling center that would be located in Flushing.

The plan is getting the backing of both the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens.

“We’re taking input from everybody and looking for great ideas,” Cohen told Bloomberg News.

Cohen Promising Much More Than A Casino

Currently, the area upon which Cohen and his casino business partner, Florida-based Hard Rock International, the gaming partner of the Seminole Tribe, hope to build their casino is designated as parkland. It would be necessary for that designation to be removed in order for the area to be used for some other entity, such as a casino.

In reality, the land is nothing more than a parking area for Citi Field. However, Cohen’s desire to turn this parking lot into a casino paradise is facing significant opposition from the locals.

Steve Cohen. Wikipedia photo by JetSetJeri2.

Recognizing that solely looking to build a casino wasn’t going to sit well with local residents, Cohen is seeking to present a vision of upgrades to the area that would prove beneficial to residents who don’t want to be spending any time inside a casino.

These options include developing new parks and creating open green spaces for public use. Cohen also wants to see improvements made to local public transportation. He’d like to be able to create better access to the area waterfront by enhancing the availability of walking and cycling paths.

They are also promising the creation of more than 15,000 jobs in the area. “With competitive salaries and benefits and life-long careers,” Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen told

Addabbo A Backer Of Resorts World

Queen’s State Senator Joseph Addabbo, chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, is a key mover and shaker in the betting industry for the Empire State. He was a major driver in the legalization of online sports betting in the state.

However, he hasn’t been able to push the legalization of online casinos in the state, and the awarding of three licenses in the New York City area for new retail casinos is also proving to be a slow-moving project. However, there are still online options available to New York bettors such as Bookmaker USA.

Addabbo is said to favor further development of the current Queen’s retail casino, Resorts World New York City. He doesn’t represent the area upon which the Citi Field location is situated. That would be State Senator Jessica Ramos, a Democrat who isn’t viewed as being as pro casino as Addabbo. She’s stated in the past that she’s not in favor of the removal of the parkland designation from the area Cohen is seeking to develop.

Cohen’s group is among 11 different casino entities chasing the three available licenses. In October, questions from the public were submitted to the Gaming Facility Location Board. That group is controlled by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC). They have yet to publicly reveal the answers to those questions from the casino bidding groups.

From the Cohen/Hard Rock group’s point of view, the delay must be of some relief. It’s giving them time to get the parkland designation changed on the land they wish to develop for their casino site. Bally’s in the Bronx is in need of a similar change to move their bid forward.

At this stage, it appears that whichever of the bidders for the three available New York retail casino licenses are ultimately successful, their reward will be coming later rather than sooner. Industry insiders are already speculating that the process will be extended into 2025 before everything is settled.

Fueling this speculation is the fact that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2024 budget doesn’t include the potential revenue that the state would be receiving from the licensing fees the winning bidders would be paying to the state. And that budget runs through the end of March 2025, so even the finalizations of casino plans by the end of the first quarter of next year seems unlikely.

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