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Vegas casinos could be coming to NYC

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Vegas casinos could be coming to NYC

Three large casino companies are jockeying over a rare opportunity to bring a piece of the Las Vegas Strip to the Big Apple, The Post has learned. 

Wynn Resorts, Bally’s Corp. and Las Vegas Sands are all quietly positioning themselves to compete for a New York City-area casino license in anticipation of Albany putting out a request for proposals as soon as next month, sources told The Post. 

Efforts have included talking to potential developer partners and wooing local politicians for support, sources said. 

The mad scramble comes as Albany struggles to close a $15 billion budget deficit and create jobs in a state badly hurt by the pandemic. This has motivated some lawmakers to push to issue three gaming licenses reserved for downstate New York (an area that encompasses the city, lower Hudson Valley and Long Island) this year instead of in 2023 as originally planned. 

Two of the three licenses are expected to go straight to gaming properties that have already been OK’d to run slot machines in the area: the Resorts World Aqueduct racino in Queens and MGM Resorts-owned Empire City Casino in Yonkers. 

That would leave just one license for the Las Vegas and Atlantic City big shots who want to bring blackjack, roulette and other forms of casino entertainment to the Big Apple or neighboring Nassau County. 

Las Vegas Sands CEO and Chair Robert Goldstein told The Post in an exclusive interview that his company is still focused on coming to the Empire State even after last week’s sale of its Las Vegas properties, including the Venetian Resort, for $6.25 billion. 

“We are eager to bring our expertise and resources to New York — a move that could bring needed revenue, thousands of jobs and help rebuild the state from the devastating effects of COVID. And we don’t need any subsidies to do it,” Goldstein said, referring to the billions Sands pocketed exiting Vegas. 

Goldstein first broadcast his company’s interest in snagging a Gotham-area gaming license in a conference call with investors in January. But last week’s sale of its Vegas properties had insiders questioning whether Sands might be planning to exit the US entirely to focus on its much more profitable Asian gaming business. 

Not so, said Goldstein. “While we are prudently keeping our options open, we have been approached by a wide range of real-estate interests from basically every borough. They all understand the huge potential economic benefits,” he told The Post. 

Wynn and Bally’s, neither of which has publicly discussed their plans to vie for the New York license, declined to comment. 

The Empire State casino race kicked off in 2013 with a constitutional amendment authorizing seven gambling casinos in the state. The four upstate casinos were licensed first, and a moratorium was placed on the three downstate casinos for fear they would take business from the upstate gaming concerns. 

That moratorium will expire in 2023. But Gov. Cuomo signaled his interest in expediting the process in January, when he included a “request for expressions of interest” in his budget proposal, signaling to the industry he wants to hear from them. 

If the state Legislature keeps that language in the budget plan slated to emerge by April 1, then a request for casino proposals could soon follow and the three licenses may be issued by the fall — more than a year ahead of schedule, sources said. 

While Cuomo’s power in Albany has been diminished by a string of recent scandals, including allegations of unwanted sexual advances, the casino-licensing process is largely expected to continue as planned, sources added. 

Locations being scouted include Willets Point in Queens, where new Mets owner Steve Cohen leases the Citi Field ballpark and adjoining parking lots; the Belmont Park development in Long Island, which is already home to the Belmont Park racetrack and the Islanders stadium; as well as Staten Island’s St. George neighborhood — home to both the Staten Island Ferry and the New York Wheel, a proposed 630-foot Ferris wheel to be located next to the Empire Outlets retail complex. 

“I think Manhattan is a no-fly zone. I think Westchester and Nassau will be politically challenging,” one source close to the process said, adding that he expects a license to be approved for a new location in the outer boroughs. 

The project could cost between $2 billion and $4 billion, depending on what the state ends up wanting, sources said. In addition to casinos and hotels, legislators may also ask for a convention center. 

Las Vegas Sands — run by casino mogul and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson until his death in January — is the largest of the three casino chains with a $48 billion market cap, six casinos in Macau and one in Singapore. 

Wynn Resorts — founded by Steve Wynn, who resigned amid sexual-misconduct allegations in 2018 — has a $16 billion market cap, two casinos in Macau, two in Las Vegas and one in Boston. 

Bally’s is the smallest of the three, with a $2 billion market cap and 15 casinos in 11 states, including Bally’s Atlantic City. But it’s been rapidly expanding and is run by born-and-bred New Yorker Soo Kim, who grew up in Queens and went to Stuyvesant HS. 

In the end, size may not matter as much as political heft, sources said. 

“Bidders will need to negotiate with political powers in the boroughs. This will be a political process,” said a person close to the situation.

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AMC cashes in on Reddit-trading frenzy with $428 million share sale

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AMC cashes in on Reddit-trading frenzy with $428 million share sale

Cinema operator AMC Entertainment Holdings has raised about $428 million from a share sale, capitalizing on the retail-trading driven surge in its stock earlier this year.

The world’s largest cinema chain operator’s shares have gained more than five-folds in 2021 thanks to interest from amateur traders on Reddit that were piling into heavily shorted stocks such as GameStop and AMC to punish hedge funds that bet against them.

AMC said in a statement Thursday it had sold 43 million shares at an average price of $9.94 apiece in the at-the-market offering, sending its stock nearly 16 percent higher.

The company has raised funds in the past few months to ride out a downturn in its business wrought by pandemic-driven theater closures, delays in the launch of big movies and the growth of video streaming platforms.

It said in January it had raised $917 million since mid-December through equity and debt issues. It raised an additional $304.8 million in the same month through a share sale.

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Business

Amazon Fresh grocery store to replace Fairway in Paramus

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Amazon Fresh grocery store to replace Fairway in Paramus

The Paramus Fairway’s getting a fresh start.

An Amazon Fresh supermarket is set to replace the shuttered Fairway Market in Paramus, N.J.

The Jeff Bezos-owned e-commerce giant bought the former Fairway location out of bankruptcy auction along with another former Fairway store in Woodland Park for a total of $1.5 million last March, The Post previously reported. 

Amazon’s plans for the two locations were listed as confidential at the time, but came as the Seattle-based company, which also owns Whole Foods, was beginning to expand in the groceries space. 

But Amazon confirmed in November the former Woodland Park Fairway would be converted into an Amazon Fresh. And now, the Paramus location will go the same route, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to NorthJersey.com. 

It’s not clear when opening day will be, and the company did not return The Post’s request for comment. 

Amazon opened its first Fresh store in Los Angeles’ Woodland Hills neighborhood in September. It’s since opened 11 other locations elsewhere in California and in Illinois, according to the tech giant’s website. 

Amazon Fresh is the company’s attempt to offer a mix of in-store and online grocery shopping while attracting a distinct demographic from Whole Foods by offering lower prices. Fresh stores also tend to feature more national staple brands like Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s than Whole Foods, which emphasizes organic food. 

As The Post previously reported, Amazon may be looking to scoop up some more Fairway locations to expand Amazon Fresh’s footprint in the Northeast. Only seven of Fairway’s 14 stores were sold at last year’s bankruptcy auction, including the two that went to Amazon. Village Supermarket, which operates Shoprite stores, acquired at least four of those locations as well as rights to the Fairway brand. 

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McDonald’s to boost wages by 10 percent amid worker shortage

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A McDonald's in Spring, Pa., advertises $15-an-hour jobs on April 19. Like other restaurants and retailers, McDonald's is facing a nationwide labor shortage as the pandemic wanes.

McDonald’s said Thursday it will boost its rank-and-file employees’ hourly pay by 10 percent as it seeks to add 10,000 workers at its company-owned eateries amid a nationwide labor shortage.

The world’s biggest restaurant company said entry-level employees will now get paid between $11 and $17 an hour while managers will make anywhere from $15 to $20 an hour. The wage boost also will apply to 35,600 existing McDonald’s employees, some of whom have already received the increase, the company said.

“Together with our franchisees, we face a challenging hiring environment, and staying ahead means we must constantly renew our commitment to offer one of the leading employment packages in the industry,” McDonald’s USA president Joe Erlinger said in a message to US workers.

McDonald’s said it expects all of its company-owned stores to be paying workers an average of $15 an hour by 2024 while some will get there as early as this year.

The wage increases come amid one of the tightest labor markets in history with a record 8.1 million job openings as of March. Critics have partly blamed generous unemployment benefits which have included a $300 weekly COVID-19 sweetener from the federal government. Workers have also cited concerns about a lack of childcare services and health and safety fears.

A worker cleans the floor at a McDonald's in Chicago on March 19. Some workers say they're reluctant to return over health and safety concerns.
A worker cleans the floor at a McDonald’s in Chicago on March 19. Some workers say they’re reluctant to return over health and safety concerns.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some McDonald’s franchisees have been handing out hiring and referral bonuses to attract employees. As previously reported by The Post, a McDonald’s manager in Florida even offered $50 for potential candidates to simply interview for a job — and said he had no takers after two weeks.

Chipotle Mexican Grill said this week that its average wage will reach $15 an hour by the end of June as it pushes to hire 20,000 workers.

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