Entertainment giants partner with local developers to launch casino in Coney Island • Brooklyn Paper

The push to bring a casino to Coney Island is gaining momentum as three organizations have announced they have teamed up with Thor Equities to make a casino a people’s playground.

Saratoga Casino Holdings, Chickasaw Nation and Legends have joined Thor Equities’ bid for a “comprehensive casino, hotel and entertainment offering” in Coney Island as the state prepares to grant three new casino licenses in New York state . Development company Thor Equities — owned by Coney Island resident and entertainment district co-owner Joe Sitt — has been eyeing the licenses since last summer.

If their offer is accepted, the team said in a press release Tuesday that Thor would develop the property, Saratoga Casino Holdings and the Chickasaw Nation would work together to run the casino operations, and Legends would be the “development and entertainment partner.” The group says a casino would be a boon to the peninsula’s economy, which depends heavily on summer tourist traffic.

Casino game Coney Island
The partners say a casino would be a boon to Coney Island’s economy, which now relies heavily on seasonal tourist traffic. Pexels/Photo by Anna Shvets

“New York will always be our home and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to reclaim Coney Island’s legacy and bring new economic opportunity to an iconic neighborhood,” Sitt said in a statement. “With our amazing partners, we are committed to creating lasting prosperity for a community and its residents, and transforming Coney Island into a vibrant year-round destination for all. Together we have the track record of development, operations, gaming, entertainment and job creation best suited to bring security and vitality to Coney Island for the next century.”

The Chickasaw Nation, through its Global Gaming Solutions LLC business unit, operates dozens of casinos across the country. The company already has a strong partnership with Legends, said Bill Lance, chairman of Global Gaming, and hopes to expand and build on that partnership to “bring new life to this iconic New York City landmark.”

The team said they are committed to employing local Coney Islanders and partnering with local businesses, and plan to create a job training program focused on hospitality and games for Brooklyn and Queens residents. They claim their bid would create at least 2,500 temporary construction jobs and “thousands” of permanent jobs.

Earlier this year, Mayor Eric Adams said he wants at least two of the three available licenses to be issued in New York City — and said they would create thousands of jobs for New York City residents.

“This project will finally boost our local economy in a way that will make Coney Island a year-round destination,” said Randy Peers, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Most importantly, it creates year-round, full-time employment for our local residents who can advance their careers and serve the community they grew up in.”

The Coney Island community responds

Not everyone in Coney Island is convinced that the potential casino will really benefit the neighborhood. Longtime Coney Island resident and environmental activist Ida Sanoff told the Brooklyn newspaper on Tuesday that the neighborhood was unwilling to support a massive entertainment complex. The neighborhood is dead in the winter because the parking spaces promised in the 2009 rezoning don’t exist, she said, and traffic is bad enough without tour buses joining in.

“I think the bottom line is that all of this benefits the developers who don’t live in the community, and the Coney community is known to be very, very fragmented and they just take advantage of that,” Sanoff said. “Look at Atlantic City, it didn’t do anything for the neighborhood. There’s a block on the beach with casinos and the rest of the neighborhood is still a disaster.”

The Brookyn Community Board 13, which serves Coney Island, declined to comment on the announcement.

This is breaking news and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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