Bensonhurst community board votes in favor of casino zoning, with conditions, paving the way for ‘The Coney’

the coney casino brooklyn 2024
The proposed Coney Island casino has prompted a range of reactions from locals.
Image courtesy of The Coney

Bensonhurst’s Community Board 11 voted almost unanimously last week on the citywide gaming facility zoning text amendment, which would allow up to three gaming facilities in the city.

The board’s “yes” vote applies to the three potential New York State gaming licenses, including the proposal for The Coney, a casino set to be built in Coney Island if it gets the downstate bid.

coney island casino
Community Board 11 voted to support a new zoning text amendment that would affect casinos in New York City, including the proposed Coney Island casino. Image courtesy of The Coney

In total, 20 board members voted yes, with conditions that the affected community boards — such as 11 and Coney Island’s Community Board 13 — are allowed to provide input if The Coney is selected for the gaming license, that CB11 has an opportunity to review and speak out on traffic studies, and that southern Brooklyn residents would be allowed to participate in job fairs related to any new casinos in the area.

Two CB11 members abstained from voting.

Bidders looking to bring a casino to Coney Island released their vision for the gambling hub last March, featuring a towering glass building overlooking the amusement park in the heart of the waterfront community. The structure would feature the first legal gambling facility in the Five Boroughs, along with a new hotel just steps from the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk.  CB11’s vote took place during a public hearing on the matter, following a presentation from The Coney’s community engagement team.

Robert Cornegy, one of the partners on the pro-casino task force, said the team has been working on the ground with Coney Island residents, leaders and organizations to drive home the benefits of a year-round gaming and entertainment venue.

“The more people learn about jobs, opportunities and benefits that The Coney will bring to Brooklyn and Coney Island, the more they like it,” he said in a statement to Brooklyn Paper. “We will keep speaking to everyone and engaging our communities from the ground up because Coney Island is a vibrant neighborhood and The Coney will be the economic driver that helps us revitalize it.”

During its community engagement, reps for The Coney found that residents wanted more investment in their youth. The team aimed to meet this need through various youth programs, including basketball clinics, donating needed technology to P.S. 288 in Coney, and other academic initiatives.

The team plans to keep up their engagement with local schools, churches, and businesses and to work with them to meet their needs as they await the potential gaming license.

santa event hosted by the coney bensonhurst
The pro-casino team in Coney has been engaging with the locals through free winter and youth-focused events. Photo courtesy of The Coney

According to Cornegy, the team’s consistent presence in the neighborhood has started to persuade locals — and is what led to the preliminary green light from CB11.

“It’s about the consistency. It’s when you’re meeting the community’s need on several levels,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “You can look and see the presence and feel the presence, whether it is through holiday gift giving, or Thanksgiving being there to provide turkeys. People are starting to settle into the idea of the team’s willingness to be a resource for the needs of a community that’s been characteristically underserved. Every aspect of the community has been touched and will continue to be touched.”

The gaming license still requires approval from a Community Advisory Committee, meant to gauge locals’ support of the potential casino. The Committee is currently evaluating proposals from bidders for various Downstate casino locations, including others in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

CB13 voted against the text amendment. Board members from CB13 emphasized their vote was not about whether they wanted or did not want a casino to come to Coney Island but about overall zoning use. 

(Update 1/19/2024 at 12:09 p.m.): This story has been updated to allow comment from CB13 in Coney Island.