25 Jun 2001: A general view of the new Keyspan baseball park marking the return of professional baseball to Brooklyn 44 years after the Dodgers left for Los Angeles built adjacent to Coney Island for the Brooklyn Cyclones during the Minor League Class A baseball game against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in Brooklyn, New York. The Cyclones defeated the Scrappers 3-2.Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport

Just a week after a board was formed to determine the location and siting of up to three downstate New York casinos, one real estate development firm is already making its intentions known.

A source confirmed to ESNY that Thor Equities, a real estate development, leasing and management firm, will be submitting a “robust” bid to the New York casino siting board when it releases a request for applications for casino licenses in early 2023.

The three casino licenses, included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s last state budget, will likely be awarded next year. The casinos can be located in the five boroughs, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley.

A Coney Island Casino?

The source confirmed that Thor Equities would list portions of its Coney Island amusement district properties as the potential location for its casino.

The real estate development firm owns several properties in Coney Island’s amusement district, which has also been zoned for hotels, entertainment purposes, amusements, and retail.

No further details were provides to ESNY, but rumors of Thor Equities’ interest in a Coney Island casino have popped up in recent years.

The New York Post reported Thor Equities had potential interest in a Coney Island casino back in July, but the interest was never fully confirmed.

The Real Deal, a New York real estate development publication, reported in 2018 that Thor Equities was attempting to sell 21 properties in Coney Island, located outside the Coney Island subway station between Surf Avenue and the Coney Island boardwalk.

The publication noted that Thor Equities Chairman Joseph Sitt had once envisioned using these properties as Las Vegas-style entertainment district. It’s unknown if this is the potential location Thor Equities is eyeing for its Coney Island casino, but it seems to fit the description.

Three New York Casino Licenses Up For Grabs

New York City, of course, has long been eyed by developers and casino owners as a potential location for new facilities.

The casino licensing process is just beginning, members of the state gaming commission stressed last week, with a determination on licenses unlikely to come before 2023 at the earliest.

The next step in the process will be for the board to issue a formal request for application (RFA), which will not happen until January 2023, according to a New York downstate casino website.

Interest in the licenses is expected to be very high. Firms and developers will submit bid packages to the siting board and undergo a competitive licensing process, which will be similar to the New York online sports betting license process operators underwent last year.

Developers and potential license holders must include what they will be willing to pay in taxes in their applications, so long as the tax rates are at least 25% for slot gross gaming revenue and 10% for gross gaming revenue from all other sources.

Potential casino hosts will be required to include a revenue impact in their application, pay a $1 million application fee to the commission, and prove compliance and approved with all required state and local zoning requirements.

The Gaming Commission will have the final say on license approval after the board makes its selection.

Other Potential License Holders?

While Thor Equities has confirmed they will be submitting a bid, other developers and real estate firms have also hinted or outright said they will be in the mix for a license.

According to the Times Union, Rush Street Gaming, which operates Schenectady’s Rivers casino, was one of a half-dozen firms to respond to a “request for information” about the license bidding process put out by the New York State Gaming Commission in late 2021.

Also, according to Yogonet, an Empire City Casino spokesperson noted the casino would be responding to the upcoming license RFA to secure an available license. Empire City Casino is currently partnered with MGM Resorts.

Additionally, Resorts World New York City in Queens, is also expected to respond to the RFA for one of the available licenses.

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