Casinos Create Chaos: Watch Out, New York


In April, New York State approved the issuance of three new casino licenses. (Courtesy of Unsplash)

Casinos have been a topic of heavy debate in the past few months after Governor Kathy Hochul began plans to allow for three casinos to be built in New York, with one being proposed in Times Square and another in Hudson Yards. While casinos provide jobs, revenue and tourism for the city, they are only worth it if they have the potential to succeed long-term and are built with careful consideration. 

In April, New York State approved the issuance of three new casino licenses. This was mostly due to a lobby effort by a variety of groups, but specifically the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, a group that ensures that gaming jobs in New York State are good, middle class jobs. 

Casinos have been found to have a great impact on local revenue and employment. In 2021, Forbes reported that the nation’s casinos and gaming mobile apps were estimated to bring in $53 billion in revenue. Casino’s financial successes were specifically notable in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J. In Las Vegas, the city brought in more than $7 billion in revenue in 2021, and Atlantic City grossed around $2.6 billion. These locations are notorious casino and gambling hubs, with many tourists traveling to these locations solely for this type of entertainment. 

One of the major arguments against casino buildings in New York City revolves around location. In an already overcrowded city, a large casino seems unnecessary, especially in the proposed locations of Times Square and Hudson Yards, populated areas that attract large swarms of tourists. 

Casinos provide unique opportunities for specific areas in the country outside of New York. In a place like Valley Forge, Pa., a place close to my home town of West Chester, Pa., it is understandable why a casino is attractive for that area: there is nothing else to do. 

In a place like New York, the opportunities are endless. A person visiting the city has the opportunity to visit the “normal” tourist spots that millions of people travel to see each year. What does a casino provide for the city? Would people truly travel to New York City solely for a casino?

Caesars Palace, an entertainment staple of the Las Vegas strip, wants to build a casino location in Times Square. Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green, NYC’s largest commercial landlord, stated, “We believe that Times Square offers the best location for a new resort casino that can attract tourists and benefit local businesses.” 

With Caesars Palace specifically, there is an available rewards system, with the intention that rewards members would be able to use their benefits at local restaurants and hotels, promoting support for local and small businesses nearby. However, the location choice of Times Square is confusing. A prominent feature of Times Square, Broadway, does not even support casinos, as the area is already extremely busy. Its statement is blatantly anti-casino, stating, “the Broadway League does not endorse a casino in Times Square.”

Dana Rubinstein, who covers New York City politics at The New York Times, noted that “critics worry that casinos bring an unsavory element to a neighborhood that’s already showing increasing signs of disorder and heightened violent crime.”

The overall crime index has risen more than 15% this year compared to the same period last year, as reported in September. This increase, unfortunately, has been a monthly trend since the start of 2022. 

The connection between casinos and crime is another hot topic. There is no official link between casinos and the production of more crime, but many studies have looked at casinos’ effects on gamblers in the area casinos are located in. One study has highlighted the tendency of male gamblers to act violently towards others. 

This is the most worrisome fact for me, as casinos are an easy and accessible place to gamble for hours on end, often serving alcoholic beverages. Putting a casino in the heart of New York City would be an unfortunate move, as it would only invite more crime and disorder in a city that has been consistently seeing a rise in crime and substance abuse

Gaming, betting and gambling are inevitable. It is already happening in and around New York City, and having a central location for a “safe” betting site is important. However, I do believe that there needs to be careful consideration when building these new casinos, with a dedicated team to thoughtfully choose a better location for these activities. It will be interesting to see if the well-being of New York City citizens are considered before investing in a billion dollar casino. 

Ally Dugan, FCRH ’23, is a communication and culture major from West Chester, P.A.