Hard Rock International, the gaming arm of Florida’s Seminole Tribe, is evaluating three sites on which it could possibly build an integrated resort in New York City.
Chairman Jim Allen made those remarks in a Thursday interview with the Associated Press, though he didn’t identify specific locations. He told the news agency the hotel Hard Rock is opening on 48th Street, which is valued at up to $500 million and slated to debut in April, isn’t one of three sites the operator is considering for a gaming venue.
You have to have a footprint of real estate large enough to take advantage of the size of the market,” he told the AP. “We’re extremely proud of our hotel on 48th Street, but its footprint is just not large enough for gaming.”
Allen said Hard Rock would spend $2 billion to develop a New York City casino if it’s selected as the winning bidder to develop a gaming venue in the largest US city. Policymakers in the state are mulling awarding three downstate casino licenses. However, MGM Resorts’ Empire City in Yonkers and Genting Group’s Resorts World New York City in Queens have been operating as slots-only venues since 2006 and 2011, respectively, indicating they’re likely to procure two of the three licenses, meaning only one permit would remain.
Hard Rock Faces Fierce Competition
Owing to New York’s status as the largest city in the US and a dearth of opportunities in this country for operators looking to develop new, high-end gaming venues, Hard Rock faces intense competition from commercial rivals in pursuit of a New York license.
Bally’s (NYSE:BALY), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) are reportedly interested in New York as well. Of that group, Bally’s and Wynn haven’t publicly confirmed they want in on the Big Apple, but the fact remains there’s likely just one new license to be had in the city and that competition will lure some of the industry’s biggest names.
For its part, Hard Rock has the financial resources to compete on big stages. Last December, the tribal gaming giant said it’s paying $1.075 billion to buy the operating rights of the Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip from MGM.
Allen Allays Cannibalization Fears
Hard Rock also owns a stake in the Meadowlands in northern New Jersey and he told the AP a casino project there is still on the table. That would be in addition to a New York City venue, assuming the operator wins that license.
The company already own an eponymous venue in Atlantic City, which could stoke concerns that property would be vulnerable to cannibalization if Hard Rock opens another casino in New Jersey and/or New York.
In the AP interview, Allen doesn’t run away from that issue, but he notes there are opportunities for synergies, including marketing of marquee events in Atlantic City to patrons of the theoretical Hard Rock venues at the Meadowlands and in New York.
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