Former New York Police Commissioner Says Times Square Casino a Safe Bet

Posted on: December 29, 2022, 05:53h. 

Last updated on: December 29, 2022, 07:16h.

William Bratton is the only person to lead the police departments of the US’ two largest cities — New York and Los Angeles. Bratton, who also served as commissioner of the Boston Police Department, headed the NYPD during two stints, the first from Jan.1994 through April 1996 and the second from Jan. 2014 through Sept. 2016.

New York casino NYPD commissioner Bratton
Then-New York Police Commissioner William “Bill” Bratton stands with a police officer in Times Square on New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31, 2013. Bratton believes allowing a casino to come to Times Square would make the tourism destination safer. (Image: AP)

Bratton is one of the nation’s most respected law enforcement experts. Since being appointed in 2020 by President Donald Trump, Bratton, a registered Democrat, has chaired the nation’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, an executive office of the president of the United States.

Bratton works in DC, but continues to maintain strong ties with New York City and his native Boston. Soon after Manhattan real estate giant SL Green in October unveiled a casino resort plan in conjunction with development partner Caesars Entertainment, Bratton lent his support to the scheme.

SL Green and Caesars have proposed transforming the real estate investment trust’s skyscraper at 1515 Broadway in Times Square into a casino complex. The building is currently home to Viacom and MTV.

Comish Casino Ally

New York legalized commercial gambling through a 2013 legislative package. The bill allowed for up to seven land-based commercial casinos with slot machines, table games, and sports betting.

Four of the licenses were allocated for upstate New York, with the remaining three for the downstate region of New York City and its five boroughs, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.

The 2013 law delayed the issuing of the three downstate casino concessions for 10 years. The decade-long temporary stalemate on downstate casino bidding was to provide the four upstate casinos with an initial operating period free of downstate competition.

In an op-ed published in today’s New York Daily News, Bratton explained his reasoning for backing the Caesars and SL Green casino bid for Times Square. New York’s former top cop says “The Crossroads of the World” experienced a surge in crime amid the pandemic, as COVID-19 hollowed out office buildings and retail stores.

Elevated instances of crime have hampered a tourism recovery, Bratton believes. But a casino project could help turn things around.

If left unchecked, persistent crime will become a drain on the neighborhood’s economic vitality. Tourists and theatergoers will avoid the area, which hurts local shops and restaurants. Commercial office workers will resist a return to what they perceive to be a potentially dangerous commute,” Bratton opined.

“But this is far from a hopeless situation,” Bratton continued. “SL Green is partnering with Caesars Entertainment on a bid for a new gaming license… Gaming facilities by their very nature are high-security operations… This investment will ensure the Times Square area is safe and secure, everywhere for everyone, for years to come.”

Motivating Factor

Bratton disclosed that his support for a Times Square casino could also benefit him financially.

In his op-ed, the two-time NYPD commissioner divulged that Caesars/SL Green has contracted Teneo, a global consulting and advisory firm based in New York City, to come up with creative ways that security in the Times Square area might be improved through the building of a casino. Bratton joined Teneo as the executive chair of the privately held firm’s risk advisory division in 2017.

Bratton says Caesars/SL Green has committed to investing at least $85 million into a new public-private safety initiative should the group receive one of the three downstate casino licenses.

“The proposed security measures would cover a wide area from 40th St. to 53rd St. between Sixth and Eighth avenues. The investment would include millions of dollars for new security personnel and would include an expanded security presence between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., when theater audiences, tourists, and the local workers who serve them are still out and about,” Bratton concluded.

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