Broadway League Forms Coalition Opposing Casino in Times Square

The Broadway League, representing theater producers and general managers, has formed a coalition of area restaurants and organizations to oppose a proposed casino in Times Square.

The No Times Square Casino coalition, which also includes famed theater eatery Sardi’s, as well as the Times Square Church and the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, is standing against the proposal from Caesar Entertainment and SL Green Realty Corporation to build a casino at 1515 Broadway, called Caesars Palace Times Square. Roc Nation and Jay-Z have also pledged to partner on the casino.

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The casino would include 950 hotel rooms, a live sportsbook, slots and table games and would be developed entirely within the existing building of 1515 Broadway, which counts the Minskoff Theater home to The Lion King as a tenant, among others.

This is one of several properties bidding for a permit to build a casino in downstate New York. The casino does have its supporters, including some area hotel chains and the Actors’ Equity Association and Local 802, which represents Broadway musicians. Community approval will play a large part in whether or not the casino proposal is accepted.

Overall concerns among the No Times Square Casino coalition members include increased congestion in Times Square, the fact that visitors to the casino would largely be incentivized to stay within, rather than dine or patronize other venues, more gamblers coming into the area and concerns about the staying power of the operation.

However, the casino says it will include a “significant investment in safety, security and sanitation,” including a traffic mitigation plan, which will aim to keep congestion below pre-COVID levels.

Members of the No Times Square Casino coalition are concerned about the casino’s impact on the Times Square area as it continues to recover from the closure of all Broadway theaters and the lingering effects of the pandemic.

“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. We don’t want to see that progress jeopardized by a casino,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. “We hope to be joined by more members of the community as the casino siting process moves forward.”

Some area restaurants, which are largely dependent on Broadway theatergoers and were closed for much of the pandemic, are also worried about the casino’s impact on business.

“No matter how much emphasis promoters try to place on glitz and glamour, a casino in Times Square has the potential to unravel the fabric of the theater district and jeopardize the fate of its restaurants,” said Max Klimavicius, owner of Sardi’s.

Other members of the association include four neighborhood or tenant associations, the American Bus Association and The Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety.

The Coalition for a Better Times Square, which counts Wyndham Hotels and the restaurant Carmine’s among its members, has pushed back against this and said that patrons will frequent area restaurants before and after visiting the casino.

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