New York City Casino Pitched Near United Nations, 9 West Billionaire Behind Bid

Posted on: November 21, 2022, 06:09h. 

Last updated on: November 21, 2022, 07:49h.

The New York City casino race has another entrant. Billionaire Stefan Soloviev. He is one of the nation’s largest landowners, with more than half of a million acres under his ownership, and has prepped the latest casino scheme targeting Manhattan.

New York City casino Stefan Soloviev Manhattan
A rendering of the New York City casino proposal from billionaire Stefan Soloviev. The project is targeting vacant land just south of the United Nations Headquarters along FDR Drive. (Image: The Soloviev Group)

Soloviev, 47, inherited much of his fortune after his father, Sheldon Solow, died in 2020 with a net worth north of $4.4 billion. Soloviev has opted to use the ancestral spelling of his family name in what’s believed to be an attempt to distance himself from his late father, with whom he endured a contentious relationship.

Soloviev’s inheritance included 9 West 57th St., one of Manhattan’s most iconic Midtown skyscrapers, that overlooks the Plaza Hotel and Central Park. But Soloviev has found financial success through his own business ventures, too.

Using his inherited wealth, Soloviev’s has invested in real estate, railroads, and farming. He hopes his next endeavor is in the US gaming industry.

Bloomberg reported today that Soloviev is readying an integrated casino resort blueprint that, pending state and local approvals, would be built on vacant land that he owns just south of the United Nations Headquarters along the East River.

Downstate Casinos

New York legalized commercial casino gambling in 2013. The law authorized as many as four land-based casinos in the upstate region and three downstate. Downstate is considered New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.

The 2013 gaming measure provided a 10-year stalemate for the development of the downstate casinos. The provision was designed to provide the four upstate casinos — Tioga Downs, Del Lago Resort & Casino, Resorts World Catskills, and Rivers Schenectady — an operating period free of downstate competition.

The downstate casino moratorium terminates next year. And while the video lottery racinos Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and Resorts World New York City in Queens are heavily favored for two of the three downstate concessions, interest for the presumed lone remaining casino license is high.

New York’s most powerful billionaire landlords and hedge fund giants are among the list of likely bidders.

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has partnered with Hard Rock International to bring a casino to his Citi Field MLB ballpark. Fellow billionaire Stephen Ross, who owns the Miami Dolphins and The Related Companies, the latter being one of New York City’s largest real estate firms, has suggested building a casino with Wynn Resorts at his Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side.

Now, Soloviev is yet another billionaire ready to bet big on New York City’s forthcoming commercial casino industry.

UN Casino Plan

Soloviev’s real estate portfolio includes a vacant lot just south of the UN building between 38th and 41st streets, east of 1st Ave. The roughly six-acre vacant lot is a rarity in Midtown.

It’s really exciting to take that site and look at what it can become,” Soloviev said recently in a Bloomberg interview.

Soloviev has suggested building a 1,000-room casino resort on the land. Atypical amenities would include a Ferris wheel overlooking the East River and a “democracy museum.”

Soloviev’s father purchased the land in 2000 for about $600 million from Consolidated Edison (ConEd). The property at the time included an additional three acres, which have since been sold and developed.

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