NEW YORK - New York is getting ready to hand out three casino licenses and the competition is fierce, with several big-name corporations vying for a spot. But that's not stopping a local businessman from throwing his hat into the ring.
It’s hard to see into the future, and such was the case for Soo Kim, who as a seven-year-old, immigrated to the United States. His father, a doctor, and their culture shock of her journey landed them in Elmhurst Queens in 1980.
Grade school and middle school in Queens and then his life started taking shape when he went to Stuyvesant High School, then went onto Princeton University.
Kim’s traditional immigrant parents versus him to get a career where a license would insure job security, like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. But Soo challenged his parents theory and launched a meteoric rise through the private equity business world. Most recently buying and restructuring Bally’s Casinos, growing it to 14 casinos across 10 states.
Sounds impressive, but Kim is still the David compared with the Goliaths of Las Vegas giants like MGM and Wynn. The top contenders for three casino licenses New York State is getting ready to hand out. New York City is the largest city in the country, making the licenses the holy grail of the gambling industry.
While the Vegas gambling institutions are favored in this license race, for Soo Kim, the importance of the success of a casino is trumped by how crucial it is for the operators to understand the community they are in. And he points out, as a CEO of Bally's, the money he makes with stay in New York.
"I’ve been very fortunate. I guess I could choose to figure out a way not to pay New York City taxes. But I would never do that because I feel like this city has made me," Kim tells FOX 5 News. "I went to public schools here, from first grade to high school. And then after I graduated, I came back here. I’ve lived here all my life."
With New York State poised to decide who gets to open casinos in New York City, this time around, Kim is banking on the importance of a license.