The fight to bring a casino to New York City landed in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen today, with Roc Nation bringing free food and flyers to Manhattan Plaza — a move called “predatory” by the President of the Tenants’ Association.

Roc Nation Casino Manhattan Plaza Fat Joe
Roc Nation’s Fat Joe arriving at the casino event at The Purple Tongue today. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is lobbying for locals to bet on their bid to bring a Caesars Palace casino to Times Square — just a couple of blocks away from their two-day promo popup at The Purple Tongue on W43rd Street. New York City is only expected to grant one gaming license, and Roc Nation has partnered with property developer SL Green and Caesars Entertainment to put forward a plan for installing a casino in their 54-floor office building at 1515  Broadway.

Flyers saying “It’s Time, Times Square” were being handed out around Hell’s Kitchen this afternoon (Monday) by Roc Nation, with the message that “some conflicted parties have attempted to spread misinformation, so we want to speak to you, New York City, directly.”  On W43rd Street between 9/10th Avenues, passersby were encouraged to come into the popup, learn more and sign to support the new casino.

Roc Nation Casino Manhattan Plaza Aleta LaFargue
Manhattan Plaza Tenants’ Association President Aleta LaFargue described the actions of Roc Nation as “predatory”. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Aleta LaFargue, President of the Tenants’ Association at Manhattan Plaza — a 1,689 apartment complex that takes up the whole block — said it was frustrating that Roc Nation had come without warning to a residential area. She said offering free food in the hope of getting a signature of support from locals for a casino that would “do nothing but harm to our community” was predatory.

LaFargue added that Manhatttan Plaza residents had not been notified of Roc Nation’s casino popup. “How could you simultaneously invite members of the community and surprise us? This has most definitely been a surprise attack. As you can see, our block is filled up with people with signature clipboards, with little iPads, asking for people to sign, and then handing them flyers that say how they’re going to revitalize your community,” she said.

Rendering of Times Square Casino from SL Green
Rendering of Caesars Palace and Roc Nation’s Casino in Times Square. Photo: SL Green

“When people think of Times Square, they don’t realize that it’s adjacent to a residential area where the people are really in jeopardy of falling prey to the predatory business that a casino is,” LaFargue said. “My family is from Atlantic City, and so I know very well what the methods of casinos are, and they are not to revitalize the communities that surround them.”

Angela Rye from Roc Nation shared why they had picked Manhattan Plaza and opted to provide lunch and dinner for locals on Monday and Tuesday. “From our perspective, the most important thing is the opportunity to break bread with people and answer questions. I know that when you have a conversation where people have strong opinions without breaking bread, it gets a lot more contentious and we don’t want that. We want to invite people in to receive feedback, whether it’s positive or negative or indifferent,” she said.

Roc Nation Casino Manhattan Plaza Angela Rye
Roc Nation’s Angela Rye welcoming visitors to the W43rd St casino popup. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“Alicia Keys is a part of the Roc Nation family and she actually grew up in Manhattan Plaza,” said Rye. “We’ve learned about this building and the incredible ways in which they’ve built and established a community. It was a place where we knew we had to come.”

Artist and rapper Fat Joe told reporters that choosing Roc Nation’s casino option would bring diversity. “You’ll have Black and brown leadership,” he said while promising to be “ready to take care of all the arts” and “give hundreds of jobs out in this community”. When asked about the opposition from Broadway to the group’s casino proposal, Fat Joe said: “That’s the same people who’ve owned it for 150 years.”

In their flyer, Roc Nation say their proposal will draw tourists, enhance lives, give back to businesses, benefit mass transit, develop transportation, invest in sanitation and security, protect Broadway interests, provide opportunities and honor New York City’s culture.

Meanwhile, the No Times Square Casino Coalition describes the proposal as a “bad bet” and is concerned the proposed casino will increase congestion, draw visitors away from theaters and restaurants and attract more gamblers to the area. They believe this could jeopardize the neighborhood’s revitalization and have forming a coalition — which includes The Broadway League, in partnership with the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, Hell’s Kitchen Block Association, W47/48th Street Block Association, Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association and CHEKPEDS pedestrian safety group, among others — to oppose the casino plan over its potential negative impacts.

Other casino plans on the table locally include Silverstein Properties leading a casino and hotel development on 11th Avenue and W41st Street in partnership with Greenwood Entertainment and Entertainment Affiliates, and Hudson Yards developer Related and Wynn Resorts‘ proposal to build a 3-million square foot casino at the Western Rail Yards.

Join the Conversation


    1. We do not need another problem in this area! Why don’t that care of the homeless population, immigrants and other problems first? There’s way to much traffic as it is now!

    2. Great article!! How sad that they want a casino on Times Square when it is so obvious that 11th Avenue would host a better venue. The traffic of both vehicles and pedestrians is already impossible can’t even imagine what a casino would do! Not to mention CRIME on the Rise in our neighborhood. And yes Alicia Keys did grow up there but when was the last time she visited or even did anything for MP? They have all kinds of activities at MP she has never made an appearance and now because of the sudden interest in the Casino her name is thrown around? Really? Keep your Casino off Broadway!!

      1. Well said.We have enough problems in Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen by adding a casino.We don’t want it!!!!!

  1. I have to say I was over at Javits center for the big… convention… with thousands of people leaving and walking out of it to practically the middle of nowhere, and then walked over to Hudson Yards for dinner, and was thinking that a casino in-between there is a no brainer.

  2. Hmmm…

    Congestion Pricing is “needed” because there is too much congestion.

    But somehow it is OK to keep creating new congestion like a casino or additional billionaire buildings etc.

    They don’t even hide the hypocrisy and corruption any more….

  3. I wonder how Fat Joe would feel if a casino popped up in the South Bronx. Times Square is already enough of a headache for HK residents, why would anyone want to add to that? A casino right along the city’s top drug corridor, surrounded by shelters and social service facilities housing vulnerable populations. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!?

  4. Casino in Times Square is an absolutely horrendous idea that will make it so much worse here- and we all need to fight this greed-fueled idea.

  5. People from around the world visit NYC for theatre in the midtown area. Broadway is the destination- not a casino. If the investment capital for just one theatrical production is cannibalized by a casino, there would be no renting a Broadway theatre, hiring actors, dancers, singers, playwrights, directors, house musicians, stagehands, house electricians, sound engineers, house management, ATPAM agents, coaches, ushers, and wardrobe. Let’s focus and preserve the gem sitting right in our midst which is Broadway.

    1. YES So well stated. As has been reported many times Theatre (Broadway entertainment) brings in more money than all the NYC professional sports teams. NYC is the Theatre Capital of the world. Thousands are employed in each season by the theatre industry. Casinos have Not saved Atlantic City and so many others. Remember the casino buses that started to go to AC and then STOPPED… why? And look at the explosion of AC casinos, one owned by The # 1 Major Con Man, whose name has been taken off many NYC bldgs. HYPE and LIES are Not Reality! PLEASE NO CASINO IN TIME SQUARE

    2. YES So well stated. As has been reported many times Theatre (Broadway entertainment) brings in more money than all the NYC professional sports teams. NYC is the Theatre Capital of the world. Thousands are employed in each season by the theatre industry. Casinos have Not saved Atlantic City and so many others. Remember the casino buses that started to go to AC and then STOPPED… why? And look at the explosion of AC casinos, one owned by The # 1 Major Con Man, whose name has been taken off many NYC bldgs. HYPE and LIES are Not Reality!

    3. Thank you for this, Liz. I’m honestly just learning the facts about this casino proposal, but the pop-up petitioning with free food feels very predatory. I also don’t understand why a local restaurant would host something like this that is serving food from a different restaurant. It all feels very odd.

  6. Times Square is a great location for a new casino! It is centrally located and will be easy to build.

    1. Your viewpoint seems to be, how can we make this easy for the casino to build. What is this centrally located? It is not a hospital.

    2. Do you live here? Because if you did, I bet that you would definitely not hold this opinion

  7. Horrendous idea! Fat Joe and Alicia Keys do not live here and they are investors so they are not without an agenda. It is so sneaky to do this popup and think that free food is all it takes to get residents to say yes. Where are our CB 4 and local electeds on this?The fact that one of their guys said they will have security all over HK so people walking home with cash winnings and being followed won’t get robbed! Wow, I said never thought of that scenario and he confirmed crime is an issue.

  8. Yeah… casinos will “save New York City” just like they did in Atlantic City and Detroit. Not! Just remember all those glitzy building were built on people losses not winnings. It is a terrible idea and a massive con job. Don’t be fooled! KLBazur

  9. NO CASINO in Times Square!!! These P T Barnums: Roc Nation, Caesars Palace are the ones spreading misinformation. Free Food, a paid consultant who is a former major employee of the mayor, a website claiming a “better times square”. They are spending millions to try to “hoodwink” H K residents. Where are the proven numbers that casinos really help local business (so they lie). Is this is true… why is the Broadway League, major area restaurants and associations already speaking loudly NO CASINO IN TIMES SQUARE? Diversity claims from ‘Fat Joe” a PAID spokesman – where are your FACTS on this? Reality over your fans statements. This area already has too much negative elements. The open drug situation and homeless situation are out of control. 8th Ave in the mid 40’s looks like a Hell’s Angel parking lot with the motorcycles parked and garbage on the ground. NO CASINO IN TIMES SQUARE!

  10. This was predatory, but that’s what casinos are. So they thought they could come here and ply us with food and drink and throw around PR phrases like “breaking bread”? Wouldn’t you just love to have been in on that PR planning session? I moved to Hells Kitchen in 1977 and witnessed how the city, the HK residents, and Disney cleaned up Times Square and made it a family-friendly place and now these predators want to swoop in and take advantage of that. Many don’t realize that this is a residential area. People live here. For me, the question is who benefits from this more, our neighborhood or Jay Z and his corporate casino? Clearly, corporate casino.

  11. The irony of a casino taking over a local restaurant by bringing in an outside caterer should not go unnoticed.

  12. Just what we need more addicted people on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen (gambling is an addiction for some after all). I have never seen a casino improve a neighborhood. Why would people believe that any surrounding business would benefit from a casino when the whole point of them is to keep people in the building to keep gambling. Any restaurants or stores that will benefit will be inside the casino building. The only thing the neighborhood gets is the desperate, broke gamblers who have lost everything and have no where to go but the street.

  13. Man, no. As much as I love some pai gow and craps I don’t want a casino bringing more out of town miscreants to our neighborhood. Is it really a benefit to local businesses and residents, or is that the justification that the shareholders of Caesars Entertainment tell you?

    Fat Joe – go open a casino in Mott Haven and deal with it up there.

  14. Hey, Fat Joe and Angela Rye…. If you want to “break bread” in HK, there are literally 100’s and 100’s of people living on the streets, in and around this neighborhood. I am sure they could all use a good meal. Stop trying to bribe the voting, tax paying residents of HK. And while you are getting to know the hood, try taking the M11 or M42 buses and see how long it takes you to get anywhere (without adding 1000’s of gamblers to the mix). Lastly, Alicia Keys lives in a $20+mil. house on the Pacific Ocean.

  15. Wow! Well Purple Tongue, you will never see another dollar from me or any of my friends. Clearly you do not care about our neighborhood. Thanks for making it abundantly clear.

    1. YES I have not been and I WILL NOT EVER GO as well as tell all about your aiding a casino in Times Square!
      SHAME ON YOU!!!!

  16. I dropped by there a little while ago and listened to a very nice young guy”s well rehearsed pitch. Afterward, when he mentioned that a casino had been approved for NYC, we both agreed that this doesn’t mean it will happen in Times Square. I informed him that I’m an active community member and, that despite that the positives he tried to stress, every neighbor I’ve spoke to did not feel that the pros outweighed the cons and that a casino would cause or worsen problems for us. He was cordial but did not then invite me for dinner, so I went to Red Poke Bowl. Great food! 🙂

  17. When I stopped by I got the strong sense that most of the folks signing were not HK residents, just passers-by lured in for the free food. Very manipulative and an unfortunate decision on the part of Purple Tongue to participate. Sad.

  18. Glad to read all these comments about the ways and means of suckering people to go along with another money scheme to benefit the rich. Hang in there HK residents and sound off! Casino bad. Playgrounds for kids and trees good. Housing for unhoused good. casino bad.

  19. This is a very bad idea. New York City has many problems already dealing with crime and a Casino is definitely not going to make it better. You want to make a difference in NYC? Bring something more positive like more schools for kids that are going through hard times. No Casino. No no no and no.

  20. “breaking bread” and answering questions my ass – the guy who approached me just repeated “it’s a done deal” to every point I tried to make.
    As a resident in this neighborhood, I can say the last thing we need is a casino. Aside from the obvious traffic problem in an alreay congested area, the crime that casinos bring to their locales is not welcome.
    I resent the sneaky tactics of luring people from outside the community to sign petitions as if they were residents. And am especially disappointed the the Purple Tongue, who has really betrayed their neighbors.

  21. A very cheap bribe. Were the people who willingly accepted the food starving and in need ? I think not. Did those people think for a minute when they signed their name approving of a casino how it would impact the living conditions of people living in Hell’s Kitchen: the congestion, the nerve-shattering noise made by thousands of vehicles all in a mad dash to get to the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. The danger on the streets will be amplified and, finally, the atmosphere of living in a neighborhood community will be lost.

  22. I walked into the restaurant expecting free food but they wouldn’t let me have any food unless I signed on the dotted line. So I left. I do not support the casino and I especially do not support being offered something with strings attached.

  23. Most everything has been said-but it is important to stress that the means & methods for garnering support were deceptive & sleazy, that casinos if anything HARM neighborhoods, crime & congestion is bad enough, but this is all mercenary: about the Great God of Money.

    I started & for years ran a free weekend arts festival-the opposite of this crass money grab.
    This will debilitate the area & contribute to gambling problems & broken lives-it is not only not something productive or creative & will draw attention away from uplifting, spiritual & pro-social ventures such as theater…But more total gambling is proven to just hard more lives & create more addictions.

    The vicinities around casinos do not flourish.
    They are often depressed areas, peoples-with copious Human Wreckage.
    Workers are not well-rewarded or have control over their fate or meaningful work.
    This is MERCENARY: outside interests seek to exploit & extract wealth-& many can ill-afford it.
    Especially bad for families, the needy, lonely & mentally ill-of which there are even more (& greater division of wealth) since the pandemic.

    It is a low form of exchange where instead of art productivity & meaningful thought/relationship engagement…
    We are funneled like cattle to the slaughter of debasing celebration of chasing money as “entertainment”…
    And many victims are destined to lose as the “house” vacuums their/our pockets!

    Nothing good, enlightening & humane can come of this.

  24. The idea for an UPSCALE casino property close to the Javits Center is not a bad idea and anyone opposed obviously enjoys living around abandoned, underdeveloped, disgusting streets. It obviously has to be done right and tastefully. Opening another tourist trap in the middle of Times Square would be the worst idea, causing even more congestion and drawing the wrong crowd. There is so much space available for development of beautiful residential and/or commercial properties between the streets of W 42nd and W 34th St from 10th to 12th Avenue. Hudson Yards to Hell’s Kitchen is booming and everyone should be supporting development in our area to bring even more value. It is scary walking around the barren streets there at night, there is no “neighborhood charm” to be preserved. An “above the tunnel” park would also be an amazing project to go along with this. If you have ever been to Portugal, think Jardím das Oliveiras – The City’s marvelous Rooftop Park- this connected to the Highline would be the best. If done right, this can be great for the community.

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