Betting on ‘The Coney:’ Casino executive hopes to nab coveted NY gaming license up for grabs
The Turn To Tara team took a trip to Coney Island for an exclusive interview with a casino executive who is placing his bets on creating a casino and entertainment district near the world-famous boardwalk.
It comes as some of the world's most powerful casino operators and real estate developers battle for the chance to win one of three full-scale downstate gaming licenses in New York.
Sam Gerrity, CEO of Saratoga Casino Hotel is hoping that one of those licenses will land in Coney Island.
"It's such a unique location...just look at some of the attractions that we have here," he says. "We're in the most famous city in the world in one of the most famous neighborhoods in New York City."
The casino and entertainment district, dubbed "The Coney," would feature a 330,000-square-foot gaming floor.
Gerrity and his partners, Thor Equities, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends Global Planning also hope to build a 500-plus room hotel and a 90,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art convention center.
Gerrity says his goal is to revitalize the local economy, without losing its character.
"Brooklyn, is known for its vibrancy and its character and, and we don't plan to lose any of that, but just to add on top of it. We're proposing to invest $3 billion into the community," he says. "One of the nicest things is that we have the subway right here, which will be at the entrance of our entertainment district," he says.
Gerrity adds that his company is no stranger to betting big on the Empire State, having already built and operated the first "racino" in New York.
"Our strength is the relationships that we've cultivated with our community in the state over the past almost 20 years," he says. We’re used as the gold standard, and with our plans, we'll bring in thousands of construction jobs, thousands of good paying union jobs and careers," he says.
The project has faced considerable community opposition in recent months, with neighbors expressing concerns over everything from traffic to a potential spike in crime.
"I know from experience in the gaming industry, that the myth of an increase in crime it's just that…a myth," says Gerrity. "There'll be an increase in foot traffic. There'll be more lights, there'll be more security, and it'll, in fact, decrease crime."