Still, the Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing actors and stage managers, is among those supporting the casino bid, suggesting a contentious road ahead for a proposal that will face a lengthy approval process.
“The proposal from the developer for a Times Square casino would be a game changer that boosts security and safety in the Times Square neighborhood with increased security staff, more sanitation equipment and new cameras,” Actors’ Equity said in a statement. “We applaud the developer’s commitment to make the neighborhood safer for arts workers and audience members alike.”
The simmering tensions between local power brokers, months before the formal bidding process has even begun, foreshadow the fight ahead for developers hoping to cash in on what could become the most lucrative gambling market in the country, at a time when traditional office-using tenants have become more scarce.
A state committee formed this month to review casino applications said the process would open by Jan. 6, and that no determinations on locations would be made “until sometime later in 2023 at the earliest.”
In their letter seeking support for the casino, SL Green and Caesars said that gambling revenues could be used to more than double the number of “public safety officers” in Times Square and to deploy surveillance drones.
The letter said a new casino would result in more than 50 new artificial intelligence camera systems “strategically placed throughout Times Square, each capable of monitoring 85,000+ people per day.” The safety plans were developed by former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, according to SL Green.
Mr. Bratton did not respond to a request for comment.
“As New Yorkers, it’s incumbent on us to keep making sure Times Square is keeping up with the times, and doesn’t go back to what I’ll call the bad old days of the ’70s or the early ’90s,” said Marc Holliday, the chief executive of SL Green. “And we all remember what that was like, when it comes to crime, and, you know, open drug use.”