Roc Nation Sweetens the Pot in SL Green Casino Pursuit

Jay-Z’s firm pledges to donate $115 million to theater programs in an effort to win over Broadway.


Roc Nation just raised its bid for a casino license in Times Square.

The company founded by Jay-Z, with its partners SL Green (SLG) Realty and Caesars Entertainment, publicly announced that it included $115 million in contributions to theater programs in Times Square in the venture’s proposal for a casino at West 45th Street and Broadway. The casino proposal has previously been opposed by various Broadway groups.

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Roc Nation released an open letter on Thursday, simply addressed to New York, laying out some of the goals for the $115 million, as well as the benefits it thinks a casino could bring to the city.

“The winning group must have a track record of turning words into deeds — of putting New York City and its residents first,” the letter from Roc Nation read. “Our bid commits $115 million for diverse theater programs that include daycare for Broadway workers and their families.”

SL Green has experienced pushback from the Broadway League, which formed the “No Times Square Casino Community Coalition” with local restaurant owners, resident associations and a church — against even Roc Nation’s pitch for a “boutique” casino at 1515 Broadway

The developer and its cohorts claim a gaming house could be beneficial to an underserved community, but the Broadway League argued in November that Times Square is far from one

The Broadway League did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Times Square proposal is just one of many vying for a coveted license to open a casino in the city.

Thor Equities has partnered with Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends to build a $3 billion facility on 5 acres in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Bally’s is working to convince the Trump Organization to grant it the use of 17 of the 300 acres on the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx.

Stefan Soloviev’s Soloviev Group and Mohegan hope to redevelop an empty section of Midtown East, where they plan an entertainment district complete with a giant Ferris wheel just south of the United Nations campus.

Hudson’s Bay Company wants to turn the top three floors of Saks Fifth Avenue’s 611 Fifth Avenue flagship store into a gaming floor; Related Companies with gaming partner Wynn Resorts has proposed a facility in the western portion of Hudson Yards; and Point72 Asset Management’s Steve Cohen is planning a gambling house next to Citi Field.

Mark Hallum can be reached at