NYC residents call water club’s planned casino a bad gamble

Don’t bet on the river.

The Water Club, an upscale restaurant and event venue anchored at 30th Street and the East River in Kips Bay, is rolling the dice to become the Big Apple’s first casino to offer live games — but some locals aren’t all in for it .

“There shouldn’t be a casino there, and I’m not even happy that the water club is there,” Community Council 6 member Anton Mallner said at a meeting Thursday night. Others called the idea of ​​building a 24,000-square-foot casino and a 450-foot “open deep-water pier” for more gaming space a “terrible” one, citing concerns about traffic and loud high rollers.

But board member Daniel Devine said casinos were the economic engines needed to compete with major cities such as Hong Kong, Madrid and Singapore.

“I want it to show up in our area,” he said. “We really have to think about the long-term viability of New York’s tax base.”

“New York already has a casino, and it’s on Rockaway Avenue (Queens), so I encourage you to enjoy it,” said board member Sandra McKee.

Some Kips Bay residents weren't sold on the idea of ​​a casino near them.
The Aqua Club is anchored at 30th Street and East River.
Haylaine Seidman

New York is currently on hold on adding new casinos until the end of 2023, but Gov. Hochul wants to speed up the process and, if approved in the state budget, will award three downstate licenses this year.

In addition to the water clubs, 30 groups, including major players such as Hard Rock International, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, filed requests for information with the state Gaming Commission last fall.

Although Diane Liotta is an avid gambler herself, she says she doesn’t want to bet on a casino on 39th Street near her home for fear of attracting ill-timed characters.

Some Kips Bay residents weren't sold on the idea of ​​a casino near them.
New York is currently on hold on adding new casinos.
Haylaine Seidman

“I was playing slots at the Borgata once and someone just ran off my lap and took my wallet,” she told the Post.

“In my career, I’ve never allowed loud people into any of my premises,” Micahel “Buzzy” O’Keeffe, owner of the water club, said in a phone interview. “We set a tone that expects appropriate behavior.”

There are only four commercial casinos in the state — offering live table games like blackjack, craps and roulette — that are not run by Native American tribes, and none are in town. Empire City Casino in Yonkers, Resorts World Casino in Queens and Jake’s 58 in Long Island are considered “video lottery terminals” because they only offer slot machines, video poker and off-market betting.

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