Vornado Isn’t Placing Any Bets on a Midtown Casino

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Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) is cashing out in its quest for a casino license in Manhattan.

During the company’s third-quarter earnings call, Vornado CEO Steven Roth said the company would focus its efforts on office leasing in the Penn District rather than competing in the crowded field for one of only three available downstate casino licenses.

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“It’s highly likely that we will not pursue a casino license,” Roth said Tuesday during a quarterly call. News of Vornado’s decision to fold its hand was first reported in Crain’s New York Business.

Vornado had been considering the possibility of building a casino at the site of the Hotel Pennsylvania, where demolition recently wrapped up. Vornado backed out of any new major construction projects last year due to “economic headwinds.”

With high interest rates and inflation weighing down new construction, Vornado moved away from plans to build an office tower at the Hotel Pennsylvania site and is instead exploring temporary uses to monetize where the historic building previously stood, according to Roth.

Instead of a gambling den, Roth said that the site could be used to host fashion shows, but did not go into any details.

While its financials remain depressed, Vornado’s income from its leasing portfolio remains resilient. The question of whether they’ll make any bets on a gambling house were answered briefly and in no uncertain terms.

Roth backing out clears up the chips in the crowded field for a casino license in New York City with developers Related Companies, SL Green Realty, Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management and the Soloviev Group all proposing gaming facilities in the five boroughs.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.