The push to bring a casino to Coney Island is gaining steam as three organizations announced they have partnered with Thor Equities in their bid to bring a casino to People’s Playground.
Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends have joined Thor Equities’ bid for a “comprehensive casino, hotel and entertainment proposition” at Coney Island as the state prepares to issue three new casino licenses in downstate New York. Development company Thor Equities — owned by Coney Island native and entertainment district co-owner Joe Sitt — has been looking at permits since last summer.
If their bid is accepted, the group said in a statement Tuesday that Thor will develop the property, Saratoga Casino Holdings and the Chickasaw Nation will partner to operate the casino operations and Legends will be the “development partner and entertainment”. The group says a casino would be a boon to the peninsula’s economy, which relies heavily on summer tourism.
“New York will always be our home, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to reclaim Coney Island’s legacy and bring new economic potential to an iconic neighborhood,” Sitt said in a statement. “With our incredible partners, we are committed to creating lasting prosperity for a community and its residents and making Coney Island a vibrant year-round destination for everyone. Together we have the track record of development, operations, gaming, entertainment and job creation that best suits Coney Island for safety and vibrancy for the next century.”
The Chickasaw Nation operates dozens of casinos across the country with its business entity, Global Gaming Solutions LLC. The company already has a strong partnership with Legends, Global Gaming President Bill Lance said, and hopes to expand and build on that partnership to “bring new life to this iconic New York landmark.”
The group said it is committed to employing local Coney Island residents and partnering with local businesses, and plans to create a hospitality and gaming-focused job training program for residents of Brooklyn and Queens. They claim their bid will create at least 2,500 temporary construction jobs and “thousands” of permanent jobs.
Earlier this year, Mayor Eric Adams said he would like at least two of the three available licenses to be issued in New York City — saying they would create thousands of jobs for New Yorkers.
“This project will finally boost our local economy in a way that will make Coney Island a year-round destination,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Peers. “Most importantly, it will create full-time, year-round employment for our local residents who can develop their careers and serve the community in which they grew up.”
The Coney Island community is responding
Not everyone in Coney Island is convinced the potential casino will actually benefit the neighborhood. Longtime Coney Island resident and environmental activist Ida Sanoff told The Brooklyn Paper on Tuesday that the neighborhood is not ready to support a massive entertainment complex. The neighborhood is dead in the winter because the parking promised in the 2009 redevelopment doesn’t exist, he said, and traffic is bad enough without adding tour buses into the mix.
“I think the bottom line is that all of this benefits developers who don’t live in the community, and the Coney community is famous for being very, very fragmented, and they’re just taking advantage of that,” Sanoff said. “You look at Atlantic City, it hasn’t brought anything to the neighborhood. There’s a block along the beach that has a casino and the rest of the neighborhood is still a disaster.”
Brookyn Community Board 13, which serves Coney Island, declined to comment on the announcement.
This is breaking news and will be updated as more information becomes available.