Tag Archives: Casino

‘Peace officers’ may be coming to Resorts World Casino


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


One pol wants to keep the peace at Resorts World Casino.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo has been advancing legislation to create “peace officers” at the casino – security officers who would have the power to make arrests.

Currently, the casino has security guards that are not authorized to make arrests. They instead must detain any criminal offenders and wait for local NYPD officers to arrive on the scene before carrying out any arrests.

“I think that the threat of an immediate arrest might serve as a greater deterrent to those who are seeking to cause trouble in the area, and peace officers would have that authority,” Addabbo said.

The peace officers would be unarmed but would provide added law enforcement presence at the casino.

The legislation recently cleared the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, of which Addabbo is a ranking member. After being cleared by the whole Senate, it will go under consideration by the Assembly’s Codes Committee.

Gaming can be a royal flush for the state


| editorial@queenscourier.com


By James Featherstonhaugh

President of the New York Gaming Association

New York State has been in the gambling business for decades. But for the first time in our state’s history, lawmakers in Albany are acknowledging that reality, and have started a process to take advantage of it for the benefit of all New Yorkers and especially Queens residents.

While we’re still a long way from a constitutional amendment that will legalize enhanced gaming, including table games, Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers should be commended for taking the first step. They passed amendment legislation that puts us on a path to create thousands of jobs for New Yorkers and keep billions of dollars currently being spent elsewhere right here in the Empire State.

Albany needs to pass the amendment a second time next year, and then it goes to voters on the ballot. New York does gaming the right way. We have a unique public/private partnership between the state and our nine racetrack casinos spread across New York – including Resorts World in Queens – that is the envy of other states.

Gaming venues are sensibly located, thoughtfully regulated, and operated in a socially responsible, economically reliable way that promotes everyone’s interests. Because of this, New York leads the nation in gaming revenue. But we could do much better. Currently, we lose up to $5 billion annually in gaming revenue to surrounding states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and soon, Massachusetts. These dollars are lost primarily because racetrack casinos are arbitrarily limited by our Constitution and cannot have the kinds of games you can play in other states.

For example, in New York you can play roulette, but only if the ball is rolled electronically and not by a real person. That is a distinction without a difference, and one that is currently costing us billions of dollars and thousands of jobs every year.

Consider the positive impact Resorts World has already had in Queens, where 1,500 people have been hired, and the casino has poured more than $105,000,000 into the state coffers for education. With enhanced gaming, those numbers will only go up.

There are still a number of outstanding issues that need to be resolved. But the members of the New York Gaming Association have proven track records of generating millions for the state and being among the largest employers in their regions.

The public should be excited that New York is implementing gambling in the most socially responsible and fiscally reliable way, so that we can reap the maximum benefit from casino gaming.

 

New York’s first full gaming legislature passed


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

Full casino gaming could be in the cards for NYS, as the first round of legislation, in favor of expanding the state’s regulations, was passed by both houses.

Senator Joseph Addabbo, a member of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, released a statement following the announcement of the legislature’s passing. Although Addabbo was absent for this process on protest, he supported the passage of New York State Gaming legislation.

“It is a step closer to having our residents vote on a referendum that could bring full gaming to the state,” said Addabbo. “It is a step closer for my constituents to have thousands of additional job opportunities at Resorts World. It is a step closer for our local communities, businesses, along with city and state governments to realize a greater potential for revenue growth.”

While Addabbo applauds this move forward, he advises that future maneuvers be done cautiously, utilizing community participation.

“I am an advocate for community input on these issues and feel most people would want their voices heard before any plans are implemented,” said Addabbo. “I look forward to working for my constituents and hearing their concerns on this issue.”

Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson from Resorts World Casino, says the passing of this legislature is a “significant step” towards full commercial gaming.

According to Friedman, laws to legalize full gaming have gone through the first round of negotiations several times in the past, but were halted before completely approved. Friedman claimed that in order for it to become legalized, two separate legislatures need to be approved – the second of which will not be decided on until 2013.

Friedman said Resorts World is eager to expand its operations if enhanced gaming is allowed. He estimates the expansion will create hundreds of additional jobs and garner millions in additional revenue – funds that are currently being spent out of state in nearby spots like Atlantic City, New Jersey where table gaming is available.

According to Friedman, between $3.1 billion to $5 billion leaves the state every year for entertainment and gaming in cites outside NYS.

Conventional Wisdom: Cuomo pushes for center in Queens


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Resorts World

During his State of the State address on January 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo made many bold pronouncements, but perhaps his most ambitious statement was his proposal for the “nation’s largest convention center in Queens.”

And the governor already has a spot picked out and a developer in mind – Genting America, the company which brought the Resorts World casino to the grounds of the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park, which announced its plans for a convention center in a letter of intent.

Dubbed the New York International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICE), the $4 billion project would be financed by Resorts World and would encompass 3.8 million-square-feet, with the first phase to be completed by November 2014 at the earliest.

The project would also include up to 3,000 hotel rooms, and officials believe, all told, it would bring 10,000 construction jobs, 10,000 permanent jobs and tens of thousands of ancillary jobs throughout the borough.

“I personally think this is a good thing,” said Paul Anteri, a resident from the area surrounding Resorts World. “It’ll bring more revenue to the area. Usually when you develop convention centers, it tends to bring a better type of people to the area. It brings business, jobs, tourism. A convention center means you’re going to need hotels, places for people to stay and eat. It’ll just help raise small businesses.”

While most elected officials are putting their support behind Cuomo, many believe developers must have their ears open to community input.

“I am enthusiastic about the idea of a convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack site, but I also believe we should proceed forward in a cautious manner,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “I am an advocate for community input on this project and feel most people would want to see plans or drawings for the proposal. Given our current economic situation, I would certainly work toward creating the thousands of jobs and revenue to the city and state the convention center brings.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder echoed Addabbo belief that the community must be involved in the planning process.

“The proposal to build the largest convention center in the nation at Aqueduct is an ambitious plan that must be undertaken responsibly and appropriately with real community involvement and participation,” he said.

Representatives from the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which has advocated for a convention center in Queens for almost a decade, added that this project will give the people of Queens what it needs most – jobs.

“This is a great day for the people of Queens County and the Queens Chamber of Commerce,” said Jack Friedman, executive director.

Carol Conslato, the Chamber’s president, who attended the State of the State speech, added, “The Governor’s plan to build a 3.8-million-square-foot facility with 3,000 new hotel rooms at Aqueduct Racetrack is a huge victory for the borough of Queens.”

WATCH Street Talk: Will you be going to Resorts World Racino?


| mchan@queenscourier.com


The Courier hit the streets to see if nearby locals would visit Resorts World Casino New York City, located in South Ozone Park. Reviews from Queens residents were mixed.

See video below.

Resorts World Opens


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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.

Resorts World Casino to open soon


| editorial@queenscourier.com


Fans of gaming and racing ought to keep Friday, October 28 as an open calendar day.

Resorts World Casino New York City will open its doors on that day at 1 p.m., kicking off a new era for the former site of the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park.

The initial opening will boast 2,485 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) and Electronic Table Games (ETGs). These games will be housed at Resorts World’s Times Square Casino on the first floor. The space will also offer visitors global dining selections, including Aqueduct Buffet, Wolfgang Puck Express, Stage Deli and Queens Burger.

Michael Speller, president of Resorts World, said that the facility will offer tourists and New Yorkers who typically visit casinos in other states a world-class gaming, dining and entertainment experience.

“This project has created more than 1,350 jobs and together we’ve built a truly state-of-the-art entertainment facilitiy for the borough of Queens and beyond,” said Speller. “The grand opening is the result of the vision and hard work of so many different people – both our unbelievably hardworking construction crews that have seen the project through from the beginning and our top-notch permanent staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure we are able to introduce the very best of what Resorts World represents to New York City today.”

More information on RWNY is available at www.rwnewyork.com.

Leaders wary of businesses opening near Aqueduct Racino


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Pawn shop and bar owners in South Ozone Park are looking to cash in on their own jackpot once the city’s first casino opens for business.

The stores have been sprouting up on Rockaway Boulevard and owners say it’s the perfect time and place to set up shop.

“Why open up a bar here? To make money. The casino’s coming up. A lot of people are going to come from everywhere and the place is going to be busy,” said Mohammad Saddique, co-owner of Johnny’s Bar and Restaurant.

The bar closed last Thanksgiving for renovations and plans to reopen late this October — just in time for the first stage of Resorts World Casino New York City to open to the public.
“It makes sense,” said pawn shop owner Amit Verma. “When somebody is a little low on their luck in the casino, they get lucky over here, especially now when the gold price is so high. They get paid a lot of money for their jewelry, and then they can try their luck again and maybe win their money back.”

Verma opened up his shop, Nassau Buyers, about a year ago. He said he signed the lease on the same day he found out the casino was coming to town.

“Right now it’s really slow. We only see a few people a day. But we expect the numbers to [multiply] by ten,” he said.

But local leaders are less than thrilled with their presence.

“These are the last types of businesses that the community wants,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “I doubt very much that this was the type of job creation that people had in mind when we heard that Aqueduct was going to be turned into a racino.”

Betty Braton, chairmember of Community Board 10, said she’s concerned that the businesses will take advantage of local gamblers.

“The owners assume they’re going to get business from gamblers. We are very concerned that there are people who will try to capitalize on other peoples’ gambling needs by opening businesses that cater to problem gamblers,” she said. “You can’t say they can’t be there. They have a right to be there, but we don’t believe they are particularly an asset to the community.”

But pawn shop owner Primo Arjun said he doesn’t see his business as a “bad thing.”

“You have people who don’t have credit cards or bank accounts, and they come in to get a loan in a hurry. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “The pawn shop business has changed throughout the years. You now have middle class people coming in, not just the lower class. It’s not like before where people would bring in a lot of stolen stuff. It’s mostly people who just need a loan. I’ve seen police officers, people from real estate, nurses — people from all walks of life come pawn with you.”

Arjun, owner of Primo’s Pawn Broker, said he has even been cooperating with the police.

“Everything we do gets transmitted to the precinct, and they kind of run everybody’s name through the system just to make sure. If there’s something they need to see, if they feel suspicious, we show it to them. They can come in and inspect whatever they need to,” he said.

Both pawn shop owners said they’ve been trying to erase the bad name associated with the industry.

“We’re not here to take advantage of people. There are so many locals who come out here that don’t have money for oil to heat their houses for the winter. I can’t tell you how many bills we’ve helped pay,” Verma said. “I’m a proud owner and I think that it’s a good part of the community.”

Poll says casino gaming is a ‘smart bet’


| smosco@queenscourier.com


New Yorkers say “Hit me!”

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, residents want the state to amend its constitution and deal table games at New York Casinos similar to ones in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

The poll states that 56 percent of city and state residents would approve casinos. A more recent Siena College poll found that 57 percent of New Yorkers surveyed would allow non-Indian-run casinos to be built around the state, compared with 36 percent opposed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and most recently, Democrat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have all indicated their support as well, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr, who is a member of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming & Wagering Committee.

“Rather than see the money keep going to Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indian casinos upstate, in this stagnant economy I believe we must start the process, including public input, for the expansion of Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) racinos into full casino gaming to increase our revenues and to boost education initiatives,” said Addabbo. “The smart bets are that voters would want to amend the NYS Constitution and ‘let the games begin’ – making it a win-win situation for the economy of our state and for our people.”

The senator is said to be working closely with operators at Resorts World Casino New York City, the developers at the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park, to ensure a healthy partnership benefiting the surrounding community.

James Featherstonhaugh, chairman of the New York Gaming Association, of which Resorts World is a member, said that allowing casino gambling in the state would inject a much needed jolt to local economy and jobs.

“We continue to believe that when New Yorkers know all the facts – the immediate ability to create thousands of jobs and the spin-off effect of expanded tourism – this support will only grow,” said Featherstonhaugh. “In this regard, our association will be reaching out to elected officials and the public in the coming weeks and months in an effort to educate people on the fact that New York is losing $5 billion annually to surrounding states that already have gaming. By enhancing gaming in New York, we can stop this drain, create jobs, stimulate our economy and generate more revenues for education.”