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Morning Spew

Let’s Make Times Square Worse Because It’s a Thursday

Casinos are on their way to New York City’s hottest neighborhoods, and more of what we're reading today.

5:29 AM EDT on October 20, 2022

The Gowanus Canal (Scott Heins / Hell Gate)

Kathy Hochul must enjoy games! In her only budget as governor, she gifted a billion-dollar sports stadium to her hometown football team, and granted more casino licenses to New York City. (Hochul's husband is a top attorney for a massive gaming and hospitality company but don't worry, the governor insists this will not affect any of the state's decisions.) 

Over the next year, several billionaires will be jockeying over three casino licenses that will be given out in the New York City area. 

Already, the New York Times reports, the frontrunners to receive two of those licenses are the area's existing racinos—the Resorts World Casino, in the cosmic black hole that is Aqueduct, and Empire City Casino in Yonkers (right off the highway, and with the world's saddest horses). That leaves just one license for the billionaires to fight over, in a process that we're sure will be completely above board.

One bid, highlighted by the Times today, would put a casino at 1515 Broadway (the former Viacom headquarters, and where "Total Request Live" was filmed). This proposal, backed by squash-aficionado Stephen Green of SL Green Realty Corporation, would team up with Caesars Entertainment to put a casino right in the middle of New York City's most famous neighborhood, near the M&M store, eight different Spidermans, and the Hershey's Chocolate World. It's arguably not a detriment to an already overstimulated neighborhood.

But who else is getting into the casino-helping business? Ah, now here’s a familiar name, via the Times:

In their letter seeking support for the casino, SL Green and Caesars said that gambling revenues could be used to more than double the number of “public safety officers” in Times Square and to deploy surveillance drones.

The letter said a new casino would result in more than 50 new artificial intelligence camera systems “strategically placed throughout Times Square, each capable of monitoring 85,000+ people per day.” The safety plans were developed by former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, according to SL Green.

The surveillance proposal asks a simple question: What if the outside of a casino were more like the inside of a casino? 

Anyway, Green has company—billionaires Steve Wynn and Stephen Ross want to build a casino to bail out the predictable disaster that is Hudson Yards, while Steven Cohen would like to build one in Willets Point. (So many Steves!) Hudson Yards was supposed to be a vibrant, self-sustaining office park and new neighborhood by now, and Willets Point was going to be affordable housing and a school. But when you stop caring about what people want and need, and let billionaires dictate policy, I guess all that regular people are left with is a casino. Deal us in. 

And here’re some more links to start your day!

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