A high-end contender has entered the race to obtain a downstate New York casino license. The contender is not a name anyone would associate with gambling either.
Department store Saks Fifth Avenue’s parent company HBC revealed details for the proposed project to the New York Post on Friday. Rather than a gigantic casino resort intended for the masses, the project envisions a high-end, exclusive clientele who will be greeted with champagne flutes as they step off the elevators to a glitzy casino on the upper floors of the Saks Fifth Avenue building.
Even the entrance would be the peak of glamour, with a red carpet door independent of the department store.
“In Monte Carlo they have fancy casinos so why not in Manhattan? Why should Manhattan have another slobby casino? We need spectacular,” said HBC Executive Director and CEO Richard Baker.
The casino pitch also included an interesting approach to responsible gambling.
“The casino at Saks will attract an affluent global tourist and not prey on people who shouldn’t be in casinos,” Baker said.
Given the existing building, the project would take significantly less time to bring to fruition than building an entirely new structure, as is the case in propositions such as the recent plans from Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
In a recent interview with Audacy’s 1010 WINS, New York City Mayor Eric Adams offered his thoughts on the downstate casino license.
Host Juliet Papa specifically asked Adams about his opinion on the controversial proposed Times Square casino project.
“Well, I think we want a casino downstate no matter where it is,” he said. “I know that decision is going to be made on the state level.”
“We want it downstate, but we want to also make sure we have the right safeguards in place. We don’t want people to fall into debt because of gambling. There should be a lot of things in place so it’s done correctly. I was a former Chair of Racing and Gaming. I know how powerful it is to have a casino in an area if it’s done correctly. It’s a job builder, it’s an economic boost,” he added.
When asked about potential security concerns, Adams pointed to the work done at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and how safety protocols have been very effective at that property.
Bottom line, like Saks and the other casino propositions, Adams wants a project that brings in tourists.
“We’re gonna go do a good job and it will help tourism in our city. We’re really happy that China is about to open back up. It’s a major impact on our tourism. We recovered well with approximately 56 million tourists, but we’re looking to go even higher next year. And anything that we could do to attract New Yorkers here, we say hooray to it.”