New York assemblyman submits bill that paves the way for casino bid next to Mets’ Citi Field stadium

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens) has introduced a bill that could pave the way for a potential bid to construct a casino in the sea of parking lots near Citi Field, a baseball stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York City. The legislation proposed would allow the city to greenlight a gambling development on at least 20 acres of asphalt by terminating a parkland designation.

The Citi Field casino concept is one of at least nine proposals suggested in New York City, as the state holds a competition for three downstate casino licenses. It is anticipated that two of these will be allocated to existing racinos with horse racing and digital betting, leaving the pool of contestants primarily vying for one license.

Steve Cohen, the owner of the New York Mets, has kept the details of the expected Citi Field bid under wraps. But this move may carry advantages over some city contenders that have already faced intense community pushback after unveiling their plans. 

Cohen’s development team has held numerous community sessions to solicit input on potential uses for the lots and other properties around Citi Field. “The local community and Mets fans have told us emphatically that they want more from the 50 acres of asphalt around Citi Field,” said Cohen spokeswoman Maria Comella, as reported by the New York Post. “Cohen and his team are committed to delivering a vision with dedicated green space, year-round entertainment, and good-paying local jobs.”

Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets

Still, some locals have begun to voice casino concerns, and a bid would have to clear landuse hurdles. Aubry’s bill would require that the land reverts to parkland if construction on a gaming facility fails to begin within 15 years of the legislation’s authorization.

The local state senator, Jessica Ramos, did not immediately support the legislation. “I have yet to review the legislation in full,” said Ramos in a statement, as reported by the Daily News. “Clearly, I need to have conversations with my colleagues to ensure that whatever is introduced reflects our shared goals of prioritizing community input.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who will sit on a siting board that will have the power to approve or veto any casino proposal in the borough, said he was “encouraged to see this legislative process” begin with Aubrey’s bill but took no firm position. 

On Wednesday, Aubry said that his office had contacted Ramos about the bill and that he had introduced the legislation because “there is a timeliness issue” around keeping the bid competitive.

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry

The owners of the existing slots parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens, and Yonkers race track — Resorts World Genting and MGM’s Empire City — are expected to submit bids to expand their offerings to include table games.

State gaming officials will weigh other casino license applications in the New York City region — including Times Square, Hudson Yards, the Trump Golf Course at Ferry Point in the Bronx, and Coney Island in Brooklyn — after a lengthy review that includes community advisory boards comprised of the mayor, and representatives from the council, the state Assembly and Senate.

Coney Island casino rendering

A consortium recently unveiled renderings for a dazzling new “Coney” casino and hotel that would be erected just steps from the storied Brooklyn boardwalk and beach, located smack between the iconic Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, the renderings show.