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US – Saratoga Casino Holdings joins consortium hoping for casino at New York’s Coney Island

By - 23 November 2022

Saratoga Casino Holdings, The Chickasaw Nation, and Legends are joining Thor Equities’ bid for a comprehensive casino, hotel, and entertainment proposal for Coney Island that will transform the area.

New York State will issue three downstate casino licenses in the coming months, and this partnership allows officials to draw on the expertise and institutional knowledge of respected developers and operators while also fulfilling a generations-long promise to Coney Island by providing the region with a permanent, thriving local economic engine. If awarded a license, Coney Island’s economy will no longer be so singularly dependent on summertime amusement park visitors.

Saratoga Casino Holdings has a proven track record and runs the most successful racino in Upstate New York. A New York, family owned-and-run casino and hotel operator, Saratoga Casino Holdings has expanded its operations to Colorado and Mississippi following its opening the first non-tribal racino in 2004.

Saratoga Casino Holdings operates 175,000 square feet of casino gaming space with more than 2,100 slot machines, table games, a poker room and two sportsbooks – plus several entertainment venues, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars.

Despite its enviable successes, Saratoga Casino Holdings has made it a point to give back at home, investing in New York’s future with more than $1.2bn in contributions to the New York State Education Fund – approximately 48 percent of its gaming revenue.

“My family has done business in New York for generations, including opening the first non-tribal casino in 2004 which has contributed over $1.2bn to New York State education,” said Sam Gerrity, CEO of Saratoga Casino Holdings. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Thor Equities Group, LLC and Global Gaming Solutions, LLC, two world class organizations, to bring a community friendly gaming and entertainment venue to Coney Island.”

The combined mastery of Saratoga Casino Holdings and The Chickasaw Nation will provide Coney Island with expertise in gaming, coupled with a deep understanding of the importance of meeting local community needs. Together, they will operate gaming in Coney Island.

Global Gaming Solutions is a business entity of The Chickasaw Nation. Collectively, GGS, and The Chickasaw Nation operate more than 25,000 Electronic Games, 2,000+ hotel rooms, 30+ restaurants and dozens of retail outlets. The business portfolio includes the largest casino in the world, WinStar World Casino and Resort which hosts 9 million guests annually. The Chickasaw Nation also employs nearly 13,500 people. 

“We currently enjoy an excellent strategic partnership with Legends at our flagship property WinStar World Casino and Resort. Our investment and involvement in this project reflects a desire to expand that relationship and extend it to additional strategic partners in Thor and Saratoga,” Global Gaming Board Chairman Bill Lance said. “We look forward to a successful collaboration based on our combined strengths and perhaps most importantly – our shared commitment to develop a top-tier entertainment venue that promises to respect the history of the neighborhood and breathe new life into this iconic New York City landmark. We look forward to taking our partnership with Legends – a known and trusted entity in New York – to even greater heights.”

Legends, the venture’s entertainment partner, brings three decades of experience delivering in the New York, national, and global markets – ranging from stadiums to concert venues to conventions. Originally founded as a joint venture with the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys, Legends understands the importance of Coney Island’s success to our city and state. The organization brings with it not only its unsurpassed record but a commitment to union employment opportunities in Coney Island and for the greater Coney Island Community.

“Legends is proud to work with Thor Equities and our gaming partners Saratoga Casino and The Chickasaw Nation to provide our operational and experiential expertise to bring the preeminent resort casino in New York to Coney Island,” said Bill Rhoda, President, Legends Global Planning. “This incredible resort will be a world class entertainment destination, with gaming, a variety of restaurants and entertainment for locals and tourists year-round.”

Thor Equities Group was founded in 1986 in New York by CEO and Chairman, Joe Sitt, a visionary investor, and developer who has successfully revitalized urban communities and properties across the globe for decades. As a Brooklyn native who was raised near Coney Island, Mr. Sitt holds a deep-rooted personal connection to the iconic neighborhood which has inspired his vision to bring in businesses to focus on local job creation and benefit the underserved community. With headquarters in New York City, London, and Mexico City, Thor Equities invests across North America, Europe, and Latin America and has built a global portfolio of assets across the industrial, office, retail, laboratory, mixed-use and hospitality sectors.

“New York will always be our home and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to reclaim Coney Island’s legacy and bring new economic possibilities to an iconic neighborhood,” said Chairman of Thor Equities Group, Joe Sitt. “With our incredible partners, we are committed to creating lasting prosperity for a community and its residents and turn Coney Island into a vibrant year-round destination for all to enjoy. Together we have the track record across development, operations, gaming, entertainment, and job creation that is best suited to bring Coney Island security and vitality for the next century.”

Randy Peers, President & CEO, of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said: “This project will finally stimulate our local economy in a way that turns Coney Island into a year-round destination. Most importantly, it will create all-year full-time employment for our local residents who can grow their career and serve the community they grew up.”

A project of this magnitude in Coney Island can only be accomplished by employing local residents and contracting with local businesses. The partners are committed to MWBE hiring in addition to working with local institutions to create a job training program with a focus on hospitality and gaming that then hires directly from residents of Brooklyn and Queens.

 Job creation and economic development have been awaited by Coney Island’s resident long before the pandemic. The need to finally fulfill promises made was only made more urgent by COVID. This investment of more than $3bn, completely made up of private – not taxpayer – funds will create 2,500 construction jobs. It will also create thousands of permanent ones.

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