Rap Icon and Businessman Jay-Z Joins Investment Group for New York Casino

Hip-hop megastar and businessman Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has joined investors looking to open Times Square’s first full-fledged casino in New York City, New York.

“New York is the epicenter of culture,” said Jay-Z. “We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of the true crossroads of the world.” 

Hov’s new partners include real estate giant SL Green and renowned casino-resort company Caesars Entertainment. They are one of many teams that are expected to submit bids for the Big Apple’s landmark property.

Jay-Z joins casino bid

The Brooklyn-born Jay-Z is no stranger to development in his home state. He still owns a share of the Barclays Center after he was forced to sell his share of the Brooklyn Nets in 2013, maintains several Roc Nation affiliates, and is now looking to add a casino to his list of investments.

Carter and his team announced their alliance during SL Green’s annual investors' conference Monday. The group plans to build a boutique-style casino at 1515 Broadway office tower, a property already owned by the real estate company. 

The casino would occupy eight of the 54 floors inside the tower, located between West 43rd and 44th streets. The consortium also plans to build a five-star hotel above the casino and theater on the ground floor as it is prevented from putting gaming properties there.

Local theater owners have voiced concerns that a mega-gaming location would harm Broadway theaters. However, Jay-Z, SL Green, and Caesars believe that adding a major attraction such as a casino would only increase traffic and profits in an area that has been degenerating in recent years.

According to SLG chief executive officer, Marc Holliday, consulting firm AKRF affirmed the groups’ beliefs, stating that a casino would create 400,000 more annual ticket sales to Broadway shows. An estimated seven million more visitors would also come to Times Square, leading to seven million more meals purchased from restaurants and an additional $166 million in nearby retail purchases.

Surveying the New York gambling scene

There is no guarantee that Jay-Z’s team of high-profile investors secures the casino bid. They are being rivaled by groups that include Wynn Resorts, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Soloviev Building Company, among others.

Cohen has been especially vocal in the process and has already theorized putting a casino in Willets Points, a neighborhood in Queen, NY across the street from Citi Field, the Mets’ home stadium.

The state is expected to ask for formal bids in January. A panel of experts will review the applications before sending the top applicants to a state committee, which will ultimately choose which plan to proceed with. 

The state committee is expected to choose a location in one of the state’s five boroughs—The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island—for the casino. 

Several criteria must be met by prospective interested investors. For example, casino plans cannot violate the “public trust doctrine,” which prohibits private developers from building on public land. 

The situation in Times Square is bleak. Real estate company CBRE revealed that 25% of local offices are vacant compared to 5% in 2012. Nearby crime rates have also skyrocketed as large corporate buildings have been replaced by part-time food trucks.

New York voters legalized retail casinos in 2013. Legal sports betting came to New York in early 2022 jolted the gambling market to an all-time high and led to pressure for a casino that is now being felt.

Find more information regarding casino legalization at the state of New York.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.