In a bustling display of unity and determination, throngs from the Queens community, comprising diligent business magnates, dedicated civic leaders, and spirited residents, joined forces outside the precincts of State Senator Jessica Ramos’ office. The clarion call of their impassioned voices was singular and resolute: a plea for Senator Ramos to join their ranks in endorsing the advent of a new gaming bastion within their beloved borough.

At the heart of this fervent assembly lies the ambitious Metropolitan Park proposal, a grandeur $8 billion vision meticulously crafted by the New York Mets’ own Steve Cohen, who, in a formidable alliance with Hard Rock International, aspires to clinch one of the coveted downstate casino licenses. This license is a glittering prize, one that state regulators are poised to bestow in the waning months of 2025 or the nascent days of 2026.

Senator Ramos, the Citi Field area’s own sentinel, has thus far trodden a path of cautious reticence, unwilling to champion a bill that would redefine Willets Point’s ‘parkland’ label. Yet without this crucial reclassification, Cohen and Hard Rock’s venture into the casino quest might well falter, to the collective chagrin of certain factions of Queens’ citizenry and leadership.

“This is a great project, and Jessica, we’re calling out to you. We love you, but we need your help and without you, this cannot go through,” Aaliyah Rose Scott of Jackson Heights fervently voiced, echoing the sentiment permeating the crowd.

The Coalition for Queens Advancement orchestrated this compelling showing of advocacy at Senator Ramos’ doorstep, a beacon of community involvement and foresight.

While Ramos has yet to pledge her legislative power to the parkland status alteration, she stands firm in her commitment to open dialogues with all community voices, from ardent proponents to staunch critics of the proposed gaming venue.

Despite being engrossed in her legislative duties within the Albany confines, Ramos has voiced her awareness of Cohen’s concerted efforts to galvanize casino support. Earlier in the year, she alleged that certain town hall attendees, ostensibly community activists, were in fact financially backed by the casino’s proponents.

Adding intrigue, last month heralded the release of polarized polling data, as outcomes varied sharply depending on sponsorship—Ramos’ donor pointing to skepticism, while the Queens Future poll, with threads leading back to Cohen, indicated robust enthusiasm for Metropolitan Park.

“We want Metropolitan Park. We want this for the jobs for the young people…we want this for the green space, we want this because we deserve nice things,” proclaimed Saeeda Dunston from Elmcor Youth and Adult Services, capturing the amalgamated yearnings for a brighter Queens.

The rally’s timing could not have been more poignant, unfolding amidst revelations that for many contestants in the fierce fray for New York City-area casino validation, alternatives are nonexistent. This is the stark truth confronting Cohen and Hard Rock—without the license, Metropolitan Park might never transcend concept, leaving Willets Point languishing as an underutilized terrain.

Meanwhile, the encompassing casino race girds for potential upsets, as the ethical scruples of industry heavyweights Genting and MGM Resorts International come under scrutiny, potentially altering the stakes of the entire enterprise for Empire City and Resorts World New York patrons.

In Queens, the battle lines over Metropolitan Park’s destiny are drawn, with the call for luxury, opportunity, and rejuvenation resonating ever stronger against the hum of the city that never sleeps.

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Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson, a Senior Editor and respected voice in iGaming and sports, brings over a decade of journalism experience with a focus on digital gaming and cryptocurrency. Starting in sports analysis, he now leads a team of writers, delivering insightful and advanced content in the dynamic world of online gaming. An avid gamer and crypto-enthusiast, Mark's unique perspective enriches his professional analysis. He's also a regular speaker at industry conferences, sharing his views on the future of iGaming and digital finance. Follow his latest articles and insights on social media.


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