Entertainment giants partner with local developer in bid to open a Coney Island casino

coney island casino
Three casino licenses are up for grabs in downstate New York, and three entertainment giants have partnered with Thor Equities to launch a bid to bring one to Coney Island.
Getty Images

The push to bring a casino to Coney Island is gaining steam as three organizations announced they have partnered with Thor Equities in their bid to bring a casino the People’s Playground.

Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation, and Legends have joined Thor Equities bid for a “comprehensive casino, hotel, and entertainment proposal” in Coney Island as the state prepares to issue three new casino licenses in downstate New York. Development company Thor Equities — which is owned by Coney Island local and part-owner of the entertainment district, Joe Sitt — has been eyeing the licenses since last summer

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

casino game coney island
The partners say a casino would be a boon to Coney Island’s economy, which is now heavily reliant 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 possibilities to an iconic neighborhood,” Sitt said in a statement. “With our incredible partners, we are committed to creating lasting prosperity for a community and its residents and turn Coney Island into a vibrant year-round destination for all to enjoy. Together we have the track record across development, operations, gaming, entertainment, and job creation that is best suited to bring Coney Island security and vitality for the next century.”

The Chickasaw Nation operates dozens of casinos across the country with its business entity, Global Gaming Solutions LLC. The company already has a strong partnership with Legends, said Global Gaming Chairman Bill Lance, and it hopes to expand and build upon that partnership to “breathe new life into this iconic New York City Landmark.”

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

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

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

The Coney Island community responds

Not everyone in Coney Island is convinced the potential casino will really benefit the neighborhood. Longtime Coney Island resident and environmental activist Ida Sanoff told Brooklyn paper on Tuesday that the neighborhood is not ready to support a huge entertainment complex. The neighborhood is dead in the wintertime because the parking that was promised in the 2009 rezoning doesn’t exist, she said, and traffic is bad enough without adding tour busses to the mix.

“I think the bottom line is, all of this benefits the developers who don’t live in the community, and the Coney community is famous for being very, very fractured and they just take advantage of this,” Sanoff said. “You look at Atlantic City, it’s brought nothing to the neighborhood. There’s one block along the beach that has casinos and the rest of the neighborhood is still a disaster.”

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

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