Saks Fifth Avenue pitches ‘high-end’ casino on top of Midtown
There’ll be no penny slots or low-stakes video poker at the high-roller casino Saks Fifth Avenue’s owners seek to build on the top floors of their upscale Midtown department store.
Among the officials briefed by representatives of Hudson’s Bay Company — the centuries-old Canadian firm that owns Saks — was Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, who says the firm’s pitch is for a casino aimed at a moneyed clientele.
“They are making an extremely strong case that it’s better for the city to have a casino targeting high-end clients,” Levine told the Daily News on Saturday.
The Saks team argued that a high-end operation on their building’s higher floors would limit the risk of gambling addiction for middle- or working-class people, Levine said.
The company’s plan is to convert little-used space on the building’s upper floors “to build out the casino that will attract visitors and tourists from around the world seeking that luxurious, Manhattan experience,” a source close to Hudson’s Bay Company told the Daily News.
Levine said the Saks proposal for its store at 611 5th Ave. was one of five pitches he has heard for Manhattan casinos.
Though Levine was briefed on the casino plans — and local stakeholders must sign off on any casinos in their area — the state Gaming Facility Location Board will have final say on which casino proposals become reality.
The state says it will charge a fee of $500 million for the casino permits it issues. The application fee itself is $1 million.
Saks’ parent corporation is just one of many groups vying for one of three lucrative casino licenses that will be handed out in the New York City area.
Mets owner and hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen is leading one of the more prominent efforts. Another bid, backed by Caesars and SL Green Realty, would put a casino in Times Square.
Multiple studies have shown that poorer people are more likely to spend a high percentage of their income on gambling if they live near a casino.
While three casino licenses are technically up for grabs, two are widely expected to go to existing “racinos” at Resorts World Casino in Queens and the Empire City Casino in Westchester County. Currently, those locations only offer video games and bets on horse racing.
Mayor Adams has said he hopes the third license will be awarded inside the five boroughs, arguing that having two casinos would “help boost our economy and tourism.”