Say No to Casino Gambling in Coney Island
It appears that in addition to New York City’s crossroads of the world, better known as Times Square possibly morphing into a mecca for casino gambling, it now seems that if real estate developers have any say in the matter, Coney Island in Brooklyn will also see the slot machines buzzing and ringing.
According to an August report on the Archinect News web site, the New York Post reported that several of the city’s leading corporate entities, including Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ Related Companies, Vornado, and S.L. Green, have expressed interest in two of the state’s three new available casino licenses as part of an expansion endorsed by Governor Kathy Hochul.
The SL Green firm in particular has been in the forefront of lobbying for casino gambling in Times Square as well. Recently, SL Green along with Caesars Entertainment submitted a preliminary proposal to open a casino at a Times Square office building. Suffice it to say that his went over like a led balloon with The Broadway League, which represents theater owners and producers in major US cities.
The League cautioned that among the League’s many concerns is that a Times Square casino would bring “economic and social disruption,” drain customers from neighborhood restaurants and increase congestion without bringing economic benefits to the area.
While real estate developers and greedy landlords see dollar signs in their eyes and politicos of all stripes are just chomping at the bit to get their hands on the eye popping revenues that these casinos will surely generate, we need to catch our breath and find out who is really going to profit here. Will it be the local residents, the commercial businesses in the area? Will the economically challenged population who reside, for the most part, in Coney Island see a significant explosion in job growth?
Will their wallets swell with delight and will their quality of life and living standards get a big time upgrade, the likes of which, they never thought possible?
Although casino gambling in Coney Island could potentially reel in approximately $1.5 billion in license revenue for the Empire State, if one takes a cursory glance at the Atlantic City model, one would see a dark side to this big bucks bonanza.
One need only take a drive through the downtrodden streets of Atlantic City to see the abject poverty that has come to define a town known for its glittering casinos and scores of high rollers. Just ask the local denizens what life is like for them since the advent of the gaming industry in their town. Most residents live in squalor and the misery is palpable as it is etched on the faces of those who dwell in this dystopian hamlet.
Have any of these Atlantic City residents seen the benefits of the gargantuan revenue stream that is generated on a daily basis at the many casinos that dot the boardwalk in this southern New Jersey town?
Speaking to the Brooklyn Paper, an Coney Island native said, “From the 2009 rezoning, we learned the hard way. They promise you jobs, jobs, jobs, and what you get is bupkis,” as was reported by Archinect.com. “You get a few construction jobs and maybe a few minimum wage jobs, and the rest goes to the whole universe, they don’t try to hire in the community. So if you ask me, the only thing this is going to bring us is aggravation.”
She also said: “Everybody else on the peninsula has become a stepchild to the amusement area,” adding that “the amusement area, as it is, sucks up resources like the vacuum cleaner.”
Because the establishment of casino gambling requires developers to seek approval from a six-member community advisory board, which will be put together by the borough president, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Hochul, and local politicians, this could be long and arduous process.
As New York State senator Brad Hoylman noted, “I don’t know one constituent who wants a casino. Outside forces want a casino. Insiders who live here don’t.”
There is a great deal of veracity in that observation and Brooklynites and others should have their say in the matter. The last thing that Coney Island needs is for avarice among landlords and developers to rein supreme at the expense of people who toil by the sweat of their brow to earn a living and still experience tremendous many economic challenges. It would behoove all New Yorkers and especially those who live in Coney Island to jettison the notion of casino gambling.