iGaming Firm Rollbit Secures Southampton FC Front of Shirt Sponsorship

Curacao-based iGaming brand Rollbit has secured its first English Premier League partner in a front of shirt sponsorship deal with newly-promoted franchise Southampton FC.

Southampton took to X on Monday to announce its official partnership with Rollbit for the 2024-25 EPL season with a spoof video:

The crypto-based platform, which offers casino, sports betting, and futures trading services, also secured the rights to display its branding around the Saints’ St Mary’s stadium via LED ads and hospitality.

In an official news release, Southampton’s Chief Revenue Officer Greg Baker welcomed Rollbit “into the Saints family.” He said the tie-up heralds a “dynamic fusion of technology and sport, at an exciting time for the club.”

The Saints were demoted to the Championship in 2023 after a run of 11 years in the EPL. The south coast franchise, however, bounced back into English soccer’s showcase league at their first attempt after a 1-0 victory over Leeds United on May 26 in the Championship playoff final.

Rollbit’s Head of Partnerships Sam Norman said his firm was “delighted” to secure the new deal following Southampton’s “incredible win” over Leeds. Norman made reference to “an exciting next chapter” and stated Southampton’s EPL pedigree made it the perfect fit for Rollbit as the brand that styles itself as “crypto’s most innovative casino” seeks to expand its global reach.

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Founder of Zero Edge Crypto Casino Gambled Away $3.7m of Investor Money

A quick spiral

The founder of the Zero Edge crypto casino has apologized after taking at least $3.7m of investor money and gambling it away on leveraged cryptocurrency trades.

Richard Kim, who recently was a general partner of Galaxy Interactive, admitted during an interview with CoinDesk that he lost the cash after a $7m fundraising round that ended on June 20.

his struggles with gambling go back decades

The leveraged trades began the very next day and it was June 29 that he told the board about the losses, which led to the directors requesting his resignation. He blamed the big losses on Bitcoin’s price dropping last month from almost $70,000 to around $62,000 and said that his struggles with gambling go back decades.

Holding up his hands

Kim reported his transgressions to the public tip line of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), explaining that his actions were “grossly negligent. But I didn’t intend to go run away with this money.” He said that falling victim to an $80,000 phishing attack was the catalyst as he tried to claw back losses.

Kim previously worked in the trading divisions at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, as well as the well-known law firm Cleary Gottlieb.

An email received by investors from Zero Edge detailed how Kim handed in his resignation on July 2. Galaxy, which is among the crypto casino’s backers, reported the matter to the relevant authorities.

Not giving up

Zero Edge claimed to be different from other cryptocurrency casinos as it didn’t add edge to the games. Kim only started the company in March after departing Galaxy. He still intends to build the product and repay investors, despite the board of directors planning to wind down operations due to the reputational risk.

compels me to create trustless systems”

Explaining why people should trust him after his recent actions, Kim said: “It is precisely the fact that I have proven untrustworthy that compels me to create trustless systems.”

He isn’t the first person involved in a cryptocurrency company to misappropriate funds and use them to gamble. A developer for the crypto trading platform Cypher stole $317,000 in May and used the money to feed his gambling addiction.

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Remembering The Mirage, the Vegas Game-Changer That Closes This Week

This Thursday, The Mirage, the casino resort that remade Las Vegas, closes up shop for good.

Tourists line Las Vegas Boulevard to watch The Mirage’s volcano show one last time. (Image: Wall St. Journal)

The body of what was once the world’s largest resort will live on, as the 3,000-room structure with the 91,000-square-foot casino gets transformed into the second Hard Rock Las Vegas over the next three years. Its owners, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, plan to gut the joint and build a 600-suite tower shaped like a guitar out front, where The Mirage volcano now sits in its lagoon.

According to many users of social media, however, The Mirage will live on only in a zombie-like state, with a new guitar hotel but without a soul.

“Vegas is now dead to me,” Christopher Vance wrote in a post on the resort’s official Facebook group.

“This is so wrong,” added Matt Treat. “That casino is still beautiful. Do Treasure Island instead.”

The Mirage That Saved Vegas

In the mid-1980s, Las Vegas had lost its way. Once-glittering casino hotels the Dunes, Desert Inn, and Riviera were aging badly. The Strip had become a national punchline — a place to lose money while barely being placated by cheap, second-rate entertainment and cheaper third-rate buffets.

The 1987 “Black Monday” stock-market crash and resulting global recession ate into visitor numbers as well — as did the Atlantic City, which offered East Coasters the same unimpressive experience closer to home.

Steve Wynn poses in front of his vision during its construction. Its name, The Mirage, was apt because it stuck out as an unbelievable addition to the Strip at the time. Wynn paid the owners of the local Mirage Motel and La Mirage $250K each to change their property names. (Image: livzey.com)

A radical new vision was required to transform Las Vegas’ image and attract new interest and investment.

That vision would come from Steve Wynn, the intractable Golden Nugget owner who sold the Atlantic City outpost of that casino resort, for $440 million, just to help will his vision into reality.

Wynn’s radical idea was to impart the feeling of a Polynesian paradise smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert — a resort so crammed with luxury, entertainment, and surprises, it would be a destination in itself.

Before then, Vegas tourism basically involved picking a hotel and spending most of your vacation casino-hopping along the Strip.

Guests would enter Wynn’s new resort, which would open as the largest in the world, through a rainforest atrium with huge palm trees, exotic plants, and water features. They would look out onto a pool area with waterfalls and lagoons. And when they checked in, 450 fish from 80 species would swim around a 20,000-gallon saltwater tank behind the clerk’s head.

The simulated volcano out front would erupt every 15 minutes from dusk until midnight, giving passersby their first free Las Vegas Strip show.

An Unlikely Wynn

Today, Wynn’s vision is credited with transforming Las Vegas into a destination for world-class amenities, superstar residencies, and fine dining — along with prices to match.

Chevy Chase, as Clark Griswold, gets pulled into Siegfried & Roy’s show at The Mirage in the 1997 movie “Vegas Vacation.” (Image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Most new Strip casinos resorts that followed, followed The Mirage formula — from the new MGM Grand in 1993, to the Monte Carlo in 1997, Wynn’s own Bellagio in 1998, Mandalay Bay in 1999, Paris Las Vegas and the Aladdin in 2000, the Palms in 2001, Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, the Cosmopolitan in 2010, Resorts World in 2021, and the Fontainebleau in 2023.

But when it first opened in November 1989, success was far from a sure bet for The Mirage.

Though the resort’s $630 million cost seems commonplace now, even when adjusted for inflation to $1.6 billion, that was more money than had ever been spent on a casino resort. Anywhere.

When it was reported at the time that The Mirage needed to generate an unheard-of $1.1 million per day just to service its debt — and that Wynn had financed it using risky junk bonds — analysts and competitors alike predicted failure.

The victim not only of new ownership, but of changing tastes, priorities, and morals, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat permanently closed last year. (Image: Trip Advisor)

According to Wynn, Henry Gluck, CEO of Caesars World, told Mirage VP of Sports Bob Halloran at the time that the resort “would never open.”

But Wynn knew what he was doing by creating a haven for the wealthy. It allowed The Mirage to break Vegas’ $100-per-night room ceiling for the first time, to host the Strip’s very first $100-per-ticket permanent resident headliner, Siegfried & Roy, and to open a dozen restaurants where meals for two routinely doubled that price.

”How could anyone understand Disneyland if all they’d ever seen was the Santa Monica Pier?” he told CNN in 1996.

Some Firsts Were Also Lasts

We’re looking at you, Siegfried & Roy. Ushered into Vegas by Jan Vinicky and her elephant, Tanya — late-’60s regulars at Circus Circus — the idea of wild animals performing for human entertainment didn’t age well.

Though it would have been doomed by the 2010s anyway, the trend came to an abrupt and savage end in Vegas on Oct. 3, 2003, on stage at The Mirage. That’s the night Mantacore the tiger nearly killed Roy Horn before a shocked live audience in what remains one of the most infamous moments in entertainment history.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr take a curtain call with cast members to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE” in 2016. (Image: LA Times)

Though Wynn had already sold The Mirage to MGM Resorts by then, securing the only stage show ever produced by the Beatles, “LOVE,” was pretty much the only way to follow up a Siegfried & Roy without disappointing.

The much-loved Cirque du Soleil show took its final bows on July 7, after playing to 11.5 million satisfied guests, including former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on at least three occasions each.

“I can’t imagine Vegas without The Mirage Hotel and Casino,” commented Elena Stevens Boldrin in the official Facebook group. “I’ve spent many years going to Vegas and staying there, celebrating my birthdays. Took all three kids to Vegas for their 21st birthday and stayed at The Mirage. Memories to last a lifetime. Just got back from there, our last hurrah! Saw The Love show for the 4th and final time.

“You will be missed.”

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Thousands of Star Casino Slot Machines Shut Down Following Upgrade

Star Entertainment Group has announced that the slot machines at its casinos are currently down following an issue when upgrading the systems. The Australian company is preparing to introduce cashless gaming and discovered certain performance issues.

will lead to a significant drop in revenue at Star casinos

The machines were shut off on Saturday evening and remain down, which will lead to a significant drop in revenue at Star casinos in Brisbane, Sydney, and the Gold Coast.

In a statement on Monday morning, the company said that it decided to switch the slots off “to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and to maintain the company’s commitment to safer gambling procedures.”

It is working with the external provider of these machines, Konami, to get everything back to normal. The other operations at these properties remain available including table games, restaurants, and bars.

Under the new cashless gaming rules, anyone playing a slot machine has to scan a card that verifies their age and identity. Gamblers can still use cash on the machines after they tap their card.

Star believes the new limits will help combat money laundering and also help identify problematic gambling. The Star has until the end of August to ensure these changes are in place.

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UK Gambling Regulator Publishes Gambling Survey Data Amid Industry Optimism Over New Government

Survey data released

The United Kingdom’s gambling regulator used the release of fresh data from its Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB) to announce a July 25 date for the publishing of its first annual GSGB survey amid industry optimism over the new Labour government.

part two of data that will inform the GSGB’s first annual report

On Wednesday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)’s Head of Statistics Helen Bryce posted an introduction and summary of part two of data that will inform the GSGB’s first annual report.

Data for the concluding part of the upcoming report came from a NatCen-conducted survey that ran across the UK from November to February, canvassing 5,003 participants aged 18 or above.

Bryce wrote on the UKGC’s website that the new data shows most people gamble “for fun or for the chance to win money.”

Lottery remains king

Essentially, key outtakes from part two of the data show no change in betting patterns from part one, which interviewed 4,801 participants from July to November 2023.

Lotteries remain king in the UK, with 21% of respondents taking part in National Lottery draws, and 15% in charity lottery draws. The country’s next favorite gambling activity was scratchcards at 13%.

large proportion of online gamblers that only gamble on lottery draws”

While online gambling participation was at 36%, removing lottery draw-only players brought the online total to just 14%, with the UKGC highlighting “the large proportion of online gamblers that only gamble on lottery draws.”

Along with part two came data that was harvested over 12 months asking people how they rated their last gambling experience. The regulatory body reported 41% said their experience was positive, 22% expressed negative feelings, while 37% neither loved nor hated their last gambling encounter.

While this year’s GSGB annual report will contain data from two-part surveys, future annual reports will be comprised of four-part data surveys. Bryce stated that adding the two extra data streams will allow the regulator to “go into more detail about how responses vary across different population sub groups.”

Positive signs

Of all the data to pick out, Bryce’s decision to highlight both gambling and fun in the same sentence underlines what might be a positive wind of change for the UK industry following the landslide win of Keir Starmer’s Labour over Rishi Sunak’s Tories.

In a move welcomed by Michael Dugher, Chairman of UK gambling industry body the Betting and Gaming Council, new Prime Minister Starmer recently appointed Lisa Nandy First Secretary for Culture, Media, and Sport. Nandy’s role is pivotal in establishing and legalizing new rules for the UK gambling industry.

In what could bode well for the UK gambling industry, Dugher stated that Nandy is “a powerful advocate for working people and their culture.” The BGC chair said Nandy’s ethos was vital for the “110,000 people whose jobs depend on regulated betting—from bingo to casinos, high street retail to big tech and online.”

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Several Las Vegas Casinos Accused of Ignoring Sex Trafficking

Venetian among casinos accused

Multiple Las Vegas casinos have been named in a lawsuit which alleges they permitted sex trafficking operations on their property.

The lawsuit has been filed against a number of casinos including Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, and MGM Grand on behalf of an anonymous complainant, known as Tyla D., who was a victim of sex trafficking when just 14 years old in 2006.

Filed by THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys and Hilton Parker LLC on behalf of Tyla, the action claims that the casinos violated both the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and the Child Abuse Victims’ Rights Act of 1986.

Tyla didn’t look 18, let alone 21. She looked like what she was”

According to the filing, Tyla was forced by her traffickers to walk around the casino floors and gamble small amounts of money on slot machines while looking for customers, using a fake ID under the name of Naina Santiago. “Tyla didn’t look 18, let alone 21. She looked like what she was, a lost and frightened 14- (and eventually 15-) year-old girl, dressed up for sex appeal by an older man,” stated the complaint.

Claims casinos ignored crimes

Tyla managed to escape her traffickers after being arrested in 2007, but was forced back into sex work in casinos in 2013, when she was 21 years old. At this time, casinos had invested heavily in facial recognition technology, which the lawsuit alleges should have ensured that the casinos recognized Tyla, but elected to turn a blind eye instead.

complaint states that Tyla’s true purpose for being in the casino would have been obvious to customers

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the casinos allowed Tyla to both enter their properties and gamble without performing any requisite ID checks. The complaint states that Tyla’s true purpose for being in the casino would have been obvious to customers, but that this was ignored by staff.

“The employees turned a blind eye to Tyla’s plight because to do otherwise would have inconvenienced the employees and potentially upset her clients,” continued the complaint.

Sex trafficking has been a persistent problem for casinos both in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the US. In December 2023, a couple staying at The Strat hotel in Vegas was arrested for trafficking a minor, while in February 2024 another couple was charged for the same offense in Missouri.

Casinos deny culpability

In response, the casinos have moved to deny any responsibility, insisting both that the case is beyond the statute of limitations, and that they did not participate in or benefit from the sex trafficking operation.

In a movement to dismiss the case, the defendants stated: “As proud supporters of non-profit organizations that help trafficking survivors in their recovery, Movants condemn human trafficking categorically, have the utmost sympathy for its victims, and are deeply dismayed by the allegation that this heinous crime may have unfolded at their properties.

“But on these facts alleged, Movants cannot, as a matter of law, be held legally responsible for the clandestine crimes of Tyla’s alleged traffickers or the many others that she claims were directly involved.”

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Bally’s Allays Fears Over Chicago Casino Development By Securing $2.07bn in Funding

Bally’s Corporation is in the process of developing Chicago’s first casino and has had to overcome certain challenges along the way. Issues over the location of a 500-room hotel caused consternation due to underlying water pipes and industry experts expressed concerns over the casino company’s ability to finance the project.

will initially charge Bally’s $20m rent per year

Bally’s has eased these concerns after announcing on Friday that it secured $2.07bn in funding from Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI), a real estate investment trust (REIT). In the deal, GLPI will own the real estate on which the property will be built and will initially charge Bally’s $20m rent per year.

As part of the agreement, GLPI will acquire the real estate of Bally’s Shreveport and Bally’s Kansas City properties for $395m. Bally’s also committed to selling the land of Twin River Lincoln in Rhode Island for $735m by the end of 2026.

The company also announced the new location of the 34-story hotel, which will be on the site’s southern end instead of the northern part. The current plan is for the property to open by the fall of 2026, at which point the temporary casino at Medinah’s Temple will close.

Talking about the deal, GLPI CEO and Chairman Peter Carlino said it will be “working hand-in-hand with Bally’s to bring this project to fruition on time and on budget.”

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Bally’s Plugs Chicago Casino Funding Gap in $2B Deal with GLPI

Shares of Bally’s (NYSE: BALY) surged Friday after the gaming company announced it will strike deals with Gaming and Leisure Properties (NASDAQ: GLPI) for an aggregate of $2.07 billion in financing. That closes an $800 million shortfall the operator faced on its Chicago casino hotel project.

Bally's Chicago casino revenue
Bally’s temporary casino in Chicago. The operator announced a series of agreements with GLPI that provide financing for the permanent casino in the Windy City. (Image: Chicago Tribune)

An affiliate of Gaming and Leisure — one of the largest owners of gaming real estate — is acquiring the property assets associated with Bally’s Chicago venture and will “fund construction hard costs of up to $940 million at an 8.5% initial cash yield.” That funding will be delivered from August 2024 through December 2026.

In addition to the development funding of hard costs, GLPI also intends to acquire the Chicago land for approximately $250 million before development begins. Upon GLPI’s purchase of the Chicago land, rent will commence under a new lease carrying a 15-year initial term with an initial cash yield of 8%,” according to a statement issued by the real estate investment trust (REIT).

The announcement arrived at a critical time for Bally’s in Chicago. In March, executives from the Rhode Island-based regional casino operator told the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) the company was facing an $800 million funding gap in Chicago, stoking concerns that the much-ballyhooed debut of a casino resort in the city may not come to life.

The lease agreement on the Chicago property has been amended to reflect annual rent of $20 million at a cap rate of 8.5%. Shares of Bally’s are higher by 4.71% at this writing.

More Details on Bally’s Chicago Casino

By procuring the needed financing and, assuming various local regulatory approvals are granted over the near term, it’s possible that Bally’s could soon commence demolition of the Freedom Center, potentially positioning the operator to meet the expected September 2026 debut of the Chicago gaming venue.

Bally’s also announced that the location of the 500-room hotel tower will be moved to the southern end of the property. The initial plan called for the hotel to be located at the northern end, but it was later discovered that would damage underground infrastructure, sparking criticism that neither Bally’s nor the city had properly thought out the project.

The gaming company also implied it intends to move forward with an initial public offering (IPO) tied to the Chicago plan that is designed to allow local investors, including business owners and minority groups, to own up to 25% of the venture.

Other Moving Parts in Bally’s/GLPI Agreement

Before Friday, Bally’s and GLPI had an existing relationship that was poised to grow, and not just because of the Chicago pact. As part of the broader agreement, the REIT is acquiring the real estate of Bally’s Kansas City and Bally’s Shreveport for a total of $395 million. The combined annual rent on those properties will be $32.2 million, “representing an 8.2% initial cash capitalization rate.”

The two sides also agreed to alter the terms of an agreement under which the REIT can acquire the property assets of Bally’s Twin River casino in Lincoln, RI before the end of 2026 for $735 million, down from a previously agreed upon $771 million. Initial annual rent would be $58.8 million.

“As a part of the amendment, GLPI will be granted a right to call the Lincoln Transaction beginning in October 2026, coinciding with the scheduled maturity of Bally’s revolving credit facility. All such transactions are subject to required regulatory approvals,” according to the press release issued by the gaming company.

GLPI already owns the property associated with Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel. The REIT’s existing New England footprint consists of the Tiverton venue, the  Hollywood  Casino Hotel in Bangor, Maine, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Mass., both of which are operated by Penn Entertainment (NASDAQ: PENN).

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VEGAS MYTHS RE-BUSTED: The Imperial Palace was Shaped Like a Swastika

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Vegas Myths Busted” publishes every Monday, with a bonus Flashback Friday edition. Today’s entry in our ongoing series originally ran on Nov. 11, 2022.

A popular myth has resurfaced since the LINQ Hotel replaced the Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas Strip in 2014 — that the latter was shaped like a swastika because its builder-owner was a Nazi sympathizer.

Ralph Engelstad, founder/owner of the Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace builder/owner Ralph Engelstad, shown in an undated press conference photo, did many good things in his career, and one very bad thing. (Image: reviewjournal.com)

Oh, the Nazi sympathizer part was true, though Ralph Engelstad denied it, and it was never proven by any government entity. But that’s only because the hotelier agreed to pay $1.5 million to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in 1989 — then its second-highest fine ever — for “damaging Nevada’s image by glorifying Hitler and the Third Reich.”

Engelstad also agreed to nine restrictions on his gaming license to avoid a full-blown inquiry that could have resulted in its revocation.

According to a never-retracted 1988 New York Times article, Engelstad used his casino hotel to throw birthday parties for Adolf Hitler on April 20, 1986, and 1988. They celebrated what would have been the genocidal dictator’s 97th and 99th birthdays.

The Hitler bashes were thrown in Engelstad’s “war room,” a secret, 3,000 square-foot Imperial Palace lair decorated with Nazi memorabilia, murals of Hitler, and a painting of Engelstad dressed in full Nazi uniform. Oh yeah, and, according to the Times, the parties were staffed by bartenders in T-shirts reading “Adolf Hitler: European tour 1939-45.”

Engelstad claimed his interest in Hitler was purely historical and that the festivities were just ”theme” parties to boost employee morale. The gaming authority didn’t see it that way. According to the Times, their investigation also turned up a printing plate used to make hundreds of bumper stickers bearing the words ”Hitler Was Right.”

According to a never-retracted 2005 article on Deadspin.com, one guest of the 1988 Hitler celebration claimed that Engelstad “forced some Jewish employees to come against their wishes. He wanted one Jew to cut the cake, but the person ducked out. Ralph ran around trying to find him.”

Myth Understanding

Imperial Palace aerial view
This aerial view of the Imperial Palace is a myth-buster. (Image: trivago.com)

The myth of the swastika-shaped Imperial Palace, which, frankly, never seemed so outlandish, considering what happened inside the building, pretty much ended with the advent of Google Earth in 2005.

While the casino hotel had swastika-like angles, aerial shots clearly showed that it bore no distinct resemblance to a swastika or any other known symbol.

But the myth has resurfaced since the Imperial Palace was imploded, and that’s another myth because it wasn’t imploded. It was supposed to be, but then the Great Recession hit, and Harrah’s (now Caesars), the debt-plagued company that purchased the hotel from the Engelstad family in 2005, opted to build the LINQ over the bones of the Imperial Palace instead.

So, when viewed from above, the current hotel retains the former hotel’s exact, non-swastika shape today.

Taking the Good with the Bad

Engelstad did a lot of good for Las Vegas. He built up the Imperial Palace, originally the Flamingo Capri, from 650 to 2,700 rooms, and reopened it in 1979. He also co-developed the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He donated generously to charity. His contributions included $104 million to build a hockey arena at his alma mater, the University of North Dakota.

And he was never convicted of a crime, or even brought up on charges, in connection with the scandal.

Engelstad later denounced Hitler and apologized to the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas for his “error in judgment.” He called the parties he threw for his employees on Hitler’s birthday “stupid, insensitive, and held in bad taste.”

Engelstad died of cancer in 2002. Two arenas, the one at his alma mater in Grand Forks, ND, and a second in Thief River Falls, Minn., still bear his name.

Look for “Vegas Myths Busted” every Monday on Casino.org. Click here to read previously busted Vegas myths. Got a suggestion for a Vegas myth that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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The High Line Announces Opposition to Wynn New York Casino

The High Line, a nonprofit group named after a park on the West Side of Manhattan, launched the “Protect the High Line” campaign in opposition to plans by Related Cos. and Wynn Resorts to bring a casino hotel to that part of New York City.

High Line
Part of the High Line area of New York City. Locals there are opposing a plan to bring a casino to the neighborhood. (Image: NPR)

The group claimed the real estate developer and the gaming company are attempting to undo a 2009 pact with the city to develop more housing and protect the Western Rail Yards. Under the terms of that agreement, Related promised to deliver between 3,454 and 5,700 housing units as part of its ongoing development of Hudson Yards.

The plan currently being pushed calls for three towers, two of which would be zoned commercial and one that would have just over 1,500 residential units. One of the towers would be three million square feet and bear the Wynn name.

Related and Wynn Resorts are now applying to the City for approval to replace the original 2009 zoning agreement and make significant changes to the zoning for the Western Rail Yards at Hudson Yards (located between West 30th and West 33rd Street and 11th and 12th Avenues). Their application includes two scenarios, one with a casino and one without,” according a statement issued by the High Line.

Should Wynn not procure one of the three downstate casino permits New York regulators could award late next year, exactly how much development Related will commit to at the site could be up for debate because many of the sites being pitched for New York City-area gaming venues lack allure if casinos are excluded. As such “Plan B’s” are largely perfunctory motions designed to satisfy regulatory requirements and may never see the light of day.

High Line Not Pleased with Either Scenario

The High Line group said there are flaws with both pitches from Related because even without the Wynn casino, the real estate firm could deliver fewer housing units than originally promised while increasing the size of skyscrapers, thus blocking park views.

If the casino is approved, it would be located at the north end of the property and it would be part of a broader $12 billion commitment by Related. It’s expected the gaming venue could command 2.7 million square feet, making it bigger than Wynn Las Vegas.

The High Line isn’t moved by such superlatives, but the group said it’s not opposed to development. Rather, it wants to see the Western Rail Yards developed in such a way that the result is an improvement upon the 2009 agreement.

“We have expressed our concerns directly to Related and feel it is critical to broaden the conversation to include all relevant stakeholders and our community so we can all move forward together with a better plan,” said Alan van Capelle, executive director of Friends of the High Line, in the statement.

Related, Wynn Not Alone in Facing Opposition

From the High Line to Times Square to Queens to Nassau County, proposed downstate casinos are facing varying levels of opposition.

Specific to Related and Wynn, High Line’s formal opposition emerged about three months after Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) questioned the companies’ plans while appearing critical of what it called a “dramatic” reduction in residential units. There are some other hurdles to be cleared on the West Side, and those could take considerable amounts of time to be addressed.

“The proposed rezoning is subject to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Process, which requires multiple levels of public review, including approval by the City Council. The casino component of the development plan requires the award of a casino license in a competitive process overseen by the State Gaming Commission,” concludes the High Line.

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