NYC neighbors oppose Times Square Casino over crime traffic fears

No dice, Hova!

Locals think a Times Square casino backed by rapper Jay Z’s company is a bad idea — and would bring even more traffic and crime to the tourist-packed neighborhood, a new survey said.

A whopping 71% of registered voters who live in or near Times Square oppose opening a casino at “The Crossroads of the World” pushed by partners SL Green, Caesars and Roc Nation, according to the survey, released Thursday.

71% of voters near who live in or near Times Square are against a proposed casino in the neighborhood, according to a new survey. Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Only 23% of voters say they favor opening a casino in Times Square, according to the survey, which was financed by the No Times Square Casino Coalition that includes the influential Broadway League of Theater owners.

“The neighborhood has spoken,” said Jeff Daniel, chief strategy officer of The Shubert Organization, a coalition member.

“Too often, people forget that in addition to being a major global destination, the Theater District and surrounding neighborhood are a real community,” he added. “The people living in this neighborhood overwhelmingly believe a casino would create massive problems, erode their quality of life, and set back the progress making this a safe, welcoming place for families.”

Those surveyed including resident of Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Murray Hill and Gramercy Park.

In what may be a troubling sign for all the bidders vying for one of up to three licenses to open a casino in the New York City region, half of the surveyed voters in midtown Manhattan said they are against opening a casino anywhere in the five boroughs.

The overwhelming opposition cuts across all major demographic groups, with particularly strong resistance from women and seniors.

The survey found that 80% of respondents believe a casino may attract more crime to the area.
The survey found that 80% of respondents believe a casino may attract more crime to the area. Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Less than one in 10 voters, or 9%, think Times Square is the best location for a casino in New York City, the survey said.

The poll conducted by Tulchin Research between April 22 and 24 of 400 registered voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. It also found:

  • 81% are concerned a casino in Times Square would worsen traffic in an already congested area, including 62% who are “very concerned.”
  • 80% of respondents worry a casino would attract more crime to the area, including 61% who are “very concerned.”
  • 80% say a casino would make the area less pleasant for those who live and work there, including 60% who are “very concerned.”

Some 72% of voters said a Times Square betting complex would exploit compulsive gamblers.

Another 66% said it would contribute to sex trafficking and prostitution while about two-thirds said it would siphon business away from nearby Broadway shows and theaters and local restaurants and small businesses.

Voters also expressed skepticism about the use of drones as a public safety measure in Times Square. 

More voters said drones would make them feel less safe – 35% – compared to only 20% who felt it would boost safety, while 41% said it wouldn’t make a difference.

Mark Jennings, executive director of the nonprofit ProjectFIND, a housing group provider for the needy, said the group is “worried” about the proposal.

“Casinos can exploit and endanger communities like ours,” Jennings said. “In this poll, you’re seeing the voices of ordinary people reflected in this debate for the first time — and they don’t want a casino preying on their neighbors.”

The SL Green/Caesars/Roc Nation consortium responded: “Caesars Palace Times Square is an investment in New York, with deep support among residents, local businesses and the Broadway community. 

“Alongside a new, world-class entertainment venue in Times Square, we’re prepared to make major investments in sanitation, safety, and traffic mitigation that will re-invigorate the Theater District and make it a place where New Yorkers and tourists again feel comfortable, safe, and the excitement that comes from being in the Greatest City in the World.”

The Times Square proposal is just one of several plans backed by big money in and around the Big Apple, including a pitch from Mets owner Steven Cohen to open a venue near CitiField in Queens.

State regulators aren’t expected to issue any licenses before 2025.

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