Saks to bid for license

America’s luxury department store brand Saks Fifth Avenue has unveiled its designs on entering the race for a license to operate a casino in downstate New York.

upper floors of its Fifth Avenue store

The New York Post on Thursday reported that Saks’ confirmed it was bidding for a casino license, with the upper floors of its Fifth Avenue store on East 49th and East 50th streets in New York City the proposed gaming site.

The Post published exclusive artist renderings of the proposed casino Saks shared with the publication, revealing a high-brow concept that’s targeted at high-net-worth customers.

Richard Baker, executive chairman and CEO of Sak’s Toronto-based owner HBC, outlined his firm’s intentions, saying the Saks casino “will attract an affluent global tourist and not prey on people who shouldn’t be in casinos.”

Silver screen inspiration

Baker — who was at the helm of HBC in 2012 when he took the Hudson’s Bay Company public and acquired Saks for $2.9bn — told the Post the Saks casino would take up the 9th, 10th, and 11th floors. Black tie servers, he added, would hand out champagne flutes to gamblers.

Baker went as far as saying the 007 movie Casino Royale would be the inspiration for the Saks casino

make the customer feel like James Bond”

While the marketing departments of many luxury brands often encounter calls to “make the customer feel like James Bond,” Saks has the brand image and location on the world’s most expensive shopping street to pull it off.

According to the Post, the artist sketches “show stylishly dressed guests, seated at roulette tables, posh bars and upholstered chairs, clinking cocktails.” Going the Casino Royale route should appeal to the affluent, haute couture-conscious customers visiting Fifth Avenue and give the casino regular, high-rolling clientele.

HBC bides its time

According to Baker, HBC has been working on the plan since New York Governor Katchy Hotchul gave the green light to the three licenses in January 2021. Onboard with the Saks casino are “Broadway theaters, retailers and [elected officials] and we have a lot of support for a different type of casino in New York City,” Baker said.

Baker’s key selling point for Saks is that the casino would liven up Fifth Avenue at night when stores are locking their doors.

“All of us who live in New York City have seen an erosion of activity on Fifth Avenue, which is one of the most valuable attractions in the US and is vitally important for NYC,” Baker said. The CEO added the 007-style casino would give the iconic district a buzz, along with lights and security.

Saks’ bid for a license faces massive competition from rival bids backed by at least five billionaires. On Thursday, Las Vegas Sands threw its hat in the ring with a proposal to develop its Long Island site.

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