JAY-Z has joined a group of investors looking to open the first full-scale casino in New York City’s Times Square.
According to the New York Post, the Brooklyn-bred billionaire has joined forces with SL Green and Caesars Entertainment in a bid to erect a swanky, boutique-style casino at 1515 Broadway office tower, which is already owned by SL Green, NYC’s largest commercial landlord.
As part of the partnership, JAY-Z and his team will oversee entertainment programming at 1515 Broadway, as well as at SL Green’s six other properties in Times Square.
“New York is the epicenter of culture. We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of the true crossroads of the word,” Hov said in a statement. “My partnership with SL Green and Caesars has all the promise and commitment to economic opportunity, growth and enrichment for the community and everyone that visits the Empire State.”
The proposed casino, set to be called Caesars Palace Times Square, would occupy eight floors in the 54-story tower between West 43rd and 44th. The casino floors would also house restaurants and entertainment uses, while an 800-room five-star hotel would be created in the building above.
The ground floor, however, is specifically earmarked for non-gaming uses, including an entrance to the Minskoff Theater, which famously houses The Lion King.
Despite concerns from local theater owners and producers that a casino would be “dangerous” to Broadway theaters, SL Green believes it would bolster the industry and others like it, helping to reverse a gradual decline in the district’s fortunes.
According to consulting firm AKRF, casino visitors would boost Broadway tickets sales by 400,000 annually, in addition to attracting seven million more visitors to Times Square each year, seven million more restaurant meals outside the casino and $166 million in retail purchases to nearby businesses.
JAY-Z, SL Green and Caesars Entertainment face stiff competition, though, with half a dozen investment groups also expected to submit proposals for the casino. Rival bidders include Wynn Resorts, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Soloviev Building Company.
The state will issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) for casino applicants in January. The selection panel will then progress the strongest responses to a state siting committee, which is expected to choose one location in the five boroughs before the end of the year.
The casino plans come amid a costly legal battle between JAY-Z and Bacardi over their cognac brand D’USSÉ, in which they are 50/50 partners.
The Roc Nation boss sued the spirits giant in October over financial transparency concerns, with Hov accusing the company of deliberately mismanaging D’USSÉ in order to drive down its valuation after he exercised his right to a buyout.
As reported last week, court documents revealed Jay had offered Bacardi $1.5 billion for their 50 percent ownership stake prior to the lawsuit, but his proposal was rejected. An emergency hearing in the case is scheduled to take place this month.