Published: February 14, 2024

NY State Sen. Jessica Ramos Nears Decision on Queens Casino Land

New York State Sen. Jessica Ramos, the Democrat representing the Citi Field area, is reportedly nearing a decision on authoring legislation that could determine the fate of a proposed $8 billion Queens casino project.

Ramos, who last year balked at the idea of changing the parkland designation currently held by Willets Point, held a town hall meeting on the matter Wednesday night in Queens. That’s expected to be the last of three such question-and-answer sessions.

“I want to use all the time that we have to make sure that the community is having the conversation — this is a really important decision,” Ramos said. “I do think that still not enough community members know … that there is this possibility of a casino coming, and our community does deserve to know.”

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is partnering with Hard Rock International to win one of three downstate casino permits state regulators will award later this year or in early 2025. The land near Citi Field that Cohen is pitching as a potential site for a casino hotel and other entertainment options has been part of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park area for over eight decades. Legislative action is needed to alter the property’s parkland designation.

Ramos Could Determine Fate of Queens Casino

Last March, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens) proposed a bill that would alter the long-held parkland classification of Willets Point to make it possible to develop Willets Point for commercial purposes.

Aubry’s bill needs companion legislation from a state senator, and it would most likely be Ramos to introduce such a proposal. Should she change her mind on the Queens casino and pitch a related bill, the next steps would be the New York State Assembly and Senate — both controlled by Democrats — considering and passing the bills before the proposals could move to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) for signing.

Cohen’s desire to build a casino hotel near Citi Field is well-known, and the $8 billion proposal is one of the largest among the various New York casino pitches. It has the backing of some key groups in Queens. Likewise, the plan has plenty of detractors, including from some groups that recently proposed building a park on the land that’s designated for that purpose.

If that parkland designation isn’t altered, Cohen and Hard Rock would have to find a new spot for their plan — no easy task in real estate-scare New York City. With that in mind, it’s not hyperbole to say Ramos could determine the fate of the proposal.

“This is a very important decision, perhaps one of our most important collective decisions in our generation,” the state senator said. “It is not a decision that I, or any of you, should take lightly.”


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