Casinos in Coney Island?


With Governor Cuomo’s dreams of a gambling mecca at Aqueduct in Queens dashed, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is reviving his calls for a roll of the dice in Coney Island. (He initially raised the idea back in January.) “It would be a tremendous thing for the future of Coney Island,” Markowitz told the Daily News, “and it’s the right place to put it.” And evidently some influential locals are in favor of the idea. “Coney Island is closer to Manhattan. It already has major transportation, four subway lines, we’re immediately off the Belt Parkway,” said Coney’s unofficial mayor Dick Zigun. “And we have other things to do with an amusement park and a beach.” As the photo above shows, there used to be gambling in Coney Island before the state made it illegal. What do you think of bringing it back?

Marty Markowitz renews push for gambling in Coney Island [NY Daily News]
Photo from New York Transit Museum

19 Comment

  • Big casinos in Coney Island would absolutly destroy the community. This is a horrendous and shortsighted idea. If you have legalized gambling in Coney you’ll have everyone who is sitting on vacant property holding out untill they can sell to a big casino developer for boatloads of cash, instead of developing their properties as housing, open air amusements or something else that Coney Island actually needs. The only saving grace is that the City owns the land on which the current amusement parks are built, but who knows how long before deep pocketed casino developers convince the City to sell? Give it 5 years, Coney will be one gigantic, windowless casino with no open air amusement parks, no Boardwalk life, no new affordable housing, nothing that has been planned for this community for years. Casinos suck the air out of any place they go. And that dosen’t even get into the social problems caused by gambling that will only magnify that already significant social problems in one of Brooklyn’s poorest and most crime ridden communities. Atlantic City is as much of a miserable, corupt shithole now as it was 30 years ago. Terrible idea, hope it doesent happen.

  • Gambling is a tax on those who do not understand statistics. Casinos generally make money by relieving local residents of their cash, not tourists. There are so many casinos these days, people don’t have to travel to New York City to gamble. Coney Island is a world famous fun park, bringing casinos won’t augment that.

  • Gambling is a tax on those who do not understand statistics. Casinos generally make money by relieving local residents of their cash, not tourists. There are so many casinos these days, people don’t have to travel to New York City to gamble. Coney Island is a world famous fun park, bringing casinos won’t augment that.

  • If it is approved, hopefully whatever they build will be a bit more upscale than the “blue bird casino.”

  • Other than these plans for casino development, what exactly is in the pipeline for Coney Island?

  • Having spent a good deal of time out on Coney a few years ago reporting on Thor’s [now defunct?] redevelopment plans, it strikes me that what the area could really benefit from is a large public sports complex – ball fields, gymnasium & indoor/outdoor pools, etc. Sort of a Chelsea Piers for the Parks Department…
    Instead of focusing on all these dodgy development deals – casinos, hotels, indoor theme parks, condos – why not recognize that Coney has always been a destination for outdoor recreation – a tradition dating-back to the pre-Civil War era.
    Build a real amenity that would benefit the entire city, and THEN look to develop the area for commercial interests. The current schemes have it all backwards: there needs to be an investment in the public sphere before the private sector will be ready to accomplish anything worthwhile.

    • PS – I’m aware there’s already a rec center west of the Keyspan ballfield, but I’m talking about the main ‘amusement’ footprint directly-across from the subway station. If nothing else, Coney could use some trees & grass to give some relief from the pavement & sunshine!

    • PS – I’m aware there’s already a rec center west of the Keyspan ballfield, but I’m talking about the main ‘amusement’ footprint directly-across from the subway station. If nothing else, Coney could use some trees & grass to give some relief from the pavement & sunshine!

    • That’s why the Barclay’s arena should have been in Coney Island, not on Flatbush and Atlantic.

  • Do any of you more history types have better information on the building in the photo?

    Just because it says Casino on it does not necessarily mean it was a gambing casino,

    There is another meaning of the term casino which refers to a seaside resort, with the association that there is often gardens, from a time before air conditioning.

    There are many of these casinos in NJ, the closest I know of is in Union City or Secaucus, called Schuetzen? Park. I haven’t been there in 30 years, but the main pavilion was called the casino. There is one in Middletown NJ, and one in Red Bank.

    ear to us in South Jersey was a waterfront restaurant called Sweetwater casino.

    None of these halls had gambling, this is a completelydifferent usage of the word – “casino”.

    I wonder if your assumption about previous ganbing based on the photo are unfounded?

    • Beautiful photo! The Blue Bird Casino was not a gambling house. It was a restaurant and nightclub where you could hear such groups as Frasier’s Hawaiian Serenaders, hillbilly duo, Windy McCay, formerly with Roy Rogers, and the Melody Rangers. It was in the former Childs Building, which is now Coney Island USA.

      The Poker Game across the way was probably a Pokerino, a kind of pinball parlor that was popular back in the day when Coney had lots of different arcade games. At some of these places, you could unofficially trade in your prizes for cash. Guess you could say it was small stakes gambling

  • The building across the street from the blue bird has a sign that reads ” Poker Game ” seems like gambling is a safe assumption.

  • Two words — Atlantic City. See how terrific that has been for the residents there. Just what we need — tour buses clogging up the roads in that area and further dirtying up the beaches which are already crowded with the people who live here.

  • Bad idea. And if Marty the Clown is in favor of gambling in Coney, it will be an even worse idea.

  • In principle, I support gambling in Coney Island in conjunction with other development to create a year round amusement destination.

    That said, slot parlors will not help create an amusement destination. They will have to come up with a new model.