Resorts World Opens

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THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco
THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

South Ozone Park’s Aqueduct Racino, reborn as Resorts World Casino New York City, officially opened its doors to an eager throng of thousands of gamers on Friday, October 28.

Casino representatives and elected officials were on hand at the former Aqueduct Racino for the ribbon cutting, and to welcome those who came to play on opening day – a line which wrapped around the building, leaving visitors with at least a two hour wait.

“I can’t wait to get in,” said Yaneet Chandra, a South Ozone Park resident who arrived at the casino at around 10 a.m. to get to the head of the line. “Queens really needed a place like this.”

And not just for gaming reasons. The casino arrives amid promises of jobs for the immediate community – and according to officials, Resorts World delivered on that promise. State Senator Joseph Addabbo said that the new facility will deal the community, and Queens at large, a much needed economic boost.

Click here for a photo gallery of the grand opening.

“To see this underused land become an economic engine is just incredible,” he said. “This is a new era for the community and a win for all.”

Michael Speller, president of Resorts World New York, said that the casino will provide thousands of full time jobs to people who needed work the most.

“We are thrilled to welcome the public to this extraordinary new entertainment venue, which will permanently employ 1,350 New Yorkers, of which 89 percent are either minority or women,” Speller said at the grand opening, which occurred exactly one year to the day of the initial groundbreaking ceremony. “With 41,000 applicants for these 1,350 jobs, Resorts World New York City will work hard with the state and leadership to find more ways to create even more jobs – as many as tens of thousands – on our site as soon as possible. Today’s grand opening was the chance for our employees to share with the first of many guests the truly unique experience of Resorts World.”

First arrivals entered the racetrack casino under the “Light of Nations” sculpture – featuring 193 individual hand-blown glass bulbs representing each of the United Nations member countries around the globe and highlighting international essence of Queens itself.

The first casino in the facility to open – dubbed Times Square Casino – features 2,485 Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) and Electronic Table Games (ETG). The casino floor also features Bar 360 Lounge at the heart of the gaming floor and myriad culinary offerings reflecting the diversity of the borough.

Phase two of construction, to be completed by the end of the year, will unveil 5th Avenue Casino and Crockfords Casino on the second floor with 2,515 additional VLT and ETG. Also on the second floor will be the Central Park Events Center – the largest event space in Queens.

As the doors swung open and the first guests began to pour in, their reactions were all the same – eyes wide as saucers, mouths agape. Some were even already pulling money out of their wallets as they stepped onto the escalator.

“We just really want to have fun,” said Reggie Haughton. “Times are tough, yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t come out and enjoy ourselves. We deserve it.”

For more information on Resorts World, visit www.rwnewyork.com.