Jay-Z is in an Empire state of mind. The rap star turned mogul is asking New Yorkers to support this bid to build a casino in Times Square.
The New York State legislature recently approved three gaming licenses for New Jersey, Long Island, and Westchester County, and Jay, via Roc Nation, wants one of them. He’s competing against the long dollars of Wynn Resorts and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen for a license, but he wants New Yorkers to know his bid will improve the city.
Jay Z and Roc Nation ran full-page ads in the New York Post, The Amsterdam News, and the New York Daily News to convince New Yorkers to support their bid. They say their proposal would include millions for the Times Square theater community.
“Caesars Palace Times Square will benefit all of New York—the hotel and restaurant workers in the area, retailers and surrounding neighborhoods, the letter reads. “Our bid commits $115 million for diverse theater programs that include daycare for Broadway workers and their families.”
Roc Nation announced its partnership with SL Green and Ceasars Entertainment in December 2022. They said at the time that the experience brought forth in the combined endeavor would benefit the tourism and theater that Times Square thrives upon, bringing jobs and money into the area.
The proposed location of 1515 Broadway currently houses The Lion King production and the casino would be built on the top eight floors. The building was at one point, home to MTV. Its iconic show Total Request Live filmed from a set with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Broadway.
The casino group says say the increased traffic would only help the many theater productions in the immediate vicinity, given the post-pandemic struggles Broadway has experienced.
“New York is a beacon, the epicenter of culture. We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of Times Square, the true crossroads of the world,” Jay said last year. “My partnership with SL Green and Caesars, this coalition, has all the promise and commitment to economic opportunity, growth and enrichment for the community, and everyone who visits the Empire State.”
But there is already resistance. A broad coalition of Times Square restaurants, theater owners and producers, and tenant associations have formed the No Times Square Casino group to prevent the casino from coming to the area.
“After a decades-long turnaround that revitalized the neighborhood and turned it into a pre-eminent destination for locals, businesses and tourists, Times Square is one of the most vibrant areas in the country,” Charlotte St. Martin told Deadline last month. She is the head of the Broadway League, a trade organization of theater owners and producers. “We don’t want to see that progress jeopardized by a casino.”
However, the Actor’s Equity Association, the union which represents actors and stage managers, supports the casino, believing that it will bring in more jobs.
The New York State’s Gaming Facility Location Board is expected to decide on the bids later this year.
See how Twitter’s reacting to Jay-Z’s involvement in a potential Times Square casino below.
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