Be Our Guest: Coney Island offers beaches, amusements, Boardwalk, concessions; a casino would be a good fit
By Marty Markowitz / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
When the 2013 class of the New York State Legislature takes office in January, one of the many potential agenda items in the session will be whether to give the required second legislative approval of a bill authorizing up to seven non-Indian casinos in the state.
If that happens, a public referendum would have to be placed on the November ballot and approved by voters. There is a long way to go in the process and even recent polls show New Yorkers fluctuating on their support for casinos this early in the game. But it’s not too soon to consider ideal locations for one or more casinos in New York City, and Coney Island — a.k.a “America‘s Playground” — fits the bill in every way imaginable.
The most successful urban casinos are those that are part of a broader entertainment experience, and Coney Island provides it all: world-class beaches, thrilling rides and amusements, a historic Boardwalk, the New York Aquarium, concessions, professional baseball and summer concerts. The area is well served by four subway lines and seven bus routes, providing gamblers with a host of transportation options, including tour buses which can handle a large number of patrons in a single vehicle.
Coney Island has some of the highest unemployment rates in New York City, and a casino would provide well-paying jobs to local residents who should certainly be given hiring priority as part of any agreement.
And then there are the ancillary economic benefits from casino patrons who would stroll the Boardwalk and frequent local businesses.
Let me be clear: this would not be another Atlantic City. Any casino — or casinos — would be incorporated as part of Coney Island’s already existing ambience, and would complement — not detract from — the character and characters that have made Coney Island unique. The addition of a casino would serve as a catalyst for further economic development and solidify Coney Island as the city’s premier year-round amusement and seaside entertainment destination. When you really get down to it, where else but Coney Island?