This summer, basketball summer camps on Coney Island displayed the logo of proposed casino “The Coney,” on their uniforms. A few months prior, Long Island children’s soccer teams were also invited to an event sponsored by Las Vegas Sands.
Casino developers are racing to be the first in the New York City area, with a key step being a need to be “embraced by the community,” in the words of state regulators. However, the move to back children’s events has proved more divisive than diplomatic.
While casinos are prohibited from depicting or targeting minors in their advertising, sponsoring children’s events still falls into a gray area. A rule proposed by New York gambling regulators earlier this month would draw a finer line, barring the display of logos on clothing that are “intended primarily” for people under 21 – but it has yet to be adopted.
In the meantime, many parents have taken to Facebook and the news to voice their outrage.
“Don’t use our kids as pawns in your effort to dump something in our community that a lot of people really don’t want,” Nassau County resident Richa Corrao told The New York Times. “It’s not appreciated. It’s not right. They’re not selling bubble gum.”
Coney Island community board member Lakeisha Bowers likewise voiced her concerns with The Coney, telling the Timesthat free backpacks and water bottles were “difficult [for the community] to turn down.”
Las Vegas Sands spokesperson Ron Reese stated that the company typically supports children’s activities where it operates. “We’ll continue to invest in youth organizations because they’re important parts of the communities in which we operate,” Mr. Reese said.
Former New York City councilman and professional basketball player Robert Cornegy Jr. added his voice in support of the sponsorship. “I’ve had the names of everything from liquor stores to churches on the shirts I’ve played in,” he said. Mr. Cornegy is also a consultant on The Coney.