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Mets Owner’s Astroturf Casino Play Takes the Field in Queens

Despite a key State Senator not feeling so lucky, Steve Cohen continues pouring money into his casino dream.

Green-Wood in Spring. (Hell Gate)

Steve Cohen's dream for a casino in Flushing-Meadows Corona Park has been playing out like the Mets’ season so far: flush with money but deeply underwhelming and, like the Mets, most likely heading for an early exit from contention. 

That's because if Cohen doesn't secure a bill from the state legislature, which would allow him to turn the parking lots next to Citi Field that he holds a 99-year lease on from the City into a casino, his plans are in real danger—the state will already be deep into considering casino bids by the time the state legislature meets again. That means Cohen has around six weeks to turn his season around. 

Standing in Cohen's way has been area State Senator Jessica Ramos. Ramos, despite being closely aligned with union groups (who have supported the project, as they support almost all projects that promise union jobs), hasn't signed on to the required parkland alienation bill, citing community opposition to the casino. Meanwhile, Cohen has been trying to circumvent her vote for weeks, pushing for other state legislators to take up the bill. 

On Monday, Cohen continued his casino push, with a rally in Queens featuring a few community members in support of the casino, at Jackson Heights's Diversity Plaza (which happens to be at the center of Queens's Muslim community—Islam, it's worth noting, forbids gambling). Like much of Cohen's casino push, the groups made great efforts to hide Cohen's actual goal, burying it by promoting a few of the amenities that would be attached to casino:

Politico reports: 

Other elected officials and labor unions who support the project were notably absent, as the crowd chanted "we deserve nice things" and "we want jobs." Most who spoke only talked about green space and jobs, not even mentioning a casino in the centerpiece of the Metropolitan Park proposal — an ongoing omission Ramos has criticized.

Cohen's team has trumpeted the green space and food options that what he's dubbed "Metropolitan Park," would bring—but as he has told reporters, none of that will ever happen if a casino isn't approved for the site.

Ramos appears unmoved.  

"Steve Cohen is doing his job trying to win support for his casino bid, and I’m doing mine in Albany representing my constituents," she said in a statement to Hell Gate. 

But things do have a funny way of changing around Albany, especially when great deal of money is involved, and Cohen has amassed an army of consultants happy to take his busloads of money and promise him a win. So, we're still not counting out the insanely wealthy guy who already escaped the largest SEC fine in history unscathed to become the owner of the New York Mets (who, unlike Cohen, lose quite a lot). 

Some more links for you to keep hitting until you win the jackpot: 

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