Tag Archives: resorts world

Resorts World robbed for first time


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Resorts World, the state’s first casino, was robbed for the first time Friday afternoon, it has been reported.

According to The Daily News, the unarmed robber entered the second floor of the casino and slipped a note to a cashier demanding cash.

This comes after a recent announcement that the South Ozone Park casino topped the list of highest slot machine revenues in the country.

Op Ed: The case for Willets Point


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

By State Senator Jose Peralta

It was tremendously disappointing to learn that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to build the country’s largest convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack will not come to fruition.

No sooner had the governor announced the plan during his State of the State address in January than I endorsed the idea and offered to help however I could in making the governor’s vision for the Aqueduct venue a reality.

Fortunately, there is another viable venue in Queens that has numerous significant advantages over other locations reportedly under consideration elsewhere in the city.  That site is Willets Point.

Willets Point is, quite literally, across the street from some of the city’s most popular destinations: Citi Field, the National Tennis Center and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  The No. 7 train runs from these locations westward, all along Roosevelt Avenue, to Grand Central Terminal.  Millions of New Yorkers and visitors to the city each year take in a Mets game or U.S. Open match, or participate in a festival or recreational activity in the park.

And there perhaps is no more diverse a culinary experience to be enjoyed anywhere on the planet than along neighboring Roosevelt Avenue, which is lined with restaurants specializing in a nearly mind-numbing array of cuisines from all over the world.

In addition, the area, which is also accessible via multiple bus lines and the Long Island Railroad, is just minutes from La Guardia and Kennedy Airports.  The extension underway of the No. 7 line, already one of the city’s busiest, will add greatly to the area’s commercial appeal and potential.

Whether by plane, train, subway, bus or car, you can get to Willets Point relatively easily from anywhere in the world.  The transportation infrastructure already servicing the area dwarfs what other potential venues in and around the city have to offer.

Making the case for Willets Point even stronger are the plans to develop the area, long an eyesore that includes the Iron Triangle, a maze of auto repair and scrap businesses.  To the east of Citi Field, plans call for retail, hotel and commercial spaces to go along with a residential community of 2,500 housing units, 875 of which will be affordable housing.

Immediately to the west of Citi Field, a stadium parking lot will be converted into a one-million-square-foot retail and entertainment center, complete with more than 200 retail stores, movie theaters, restaurants, entertainment venues, a parking structure and surface parking for 2,500 cars.

Not surprisingly, Crain’s New York Business reported last week that Willets Point “is seen as the trade show industry’s first choice for a huge convention center.”

I trust that the governor will give Willets Point the serious consideration its many advantages warrant.  I look forward to a meaningful discussion of why the site would make an ideal home for the largest convention center in the United States, as well as the opportunity to help bring thousands of construction and permanent jobs to Queens.

 

Aqueduct convention center scrapped, Willets Point eyed


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

convention center

Willets Point might become the new destination for a convention center, after it was announced that plans for one near the Aqueduct Racetrack have fallen through.

Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Friday, June 1, that talks for what would have been the largest convention center in the country were not working out. Any future plans to discuss building elsewhere will wait until voters decide on new gaming laws in November 2013, said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Because the Genting Company – the desired builder of the center – holds the rights to build at Aqueduct, other investors may be called in for alternative sites, should the new gaming laws pass next year, he said.

While directly discussing potential projects with new bidders may not start until then, Friedman said planning for an alternative at Willets Point has already begun.

Willets Point would be the desired alternative, he said, because of its closer train ride to the city and LaGuardia Airport. Currently, the area known as the Iron Triangle is planned for a shopping mall, but Friedman said a convention center would bring more and better jobs.

“We’d like to see that plan modified for a much larger convention center,” he said.

New cops join 106th


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Alexa Altman

Following numerous requests from residents and officials for more police officers, the 106th Precinct has added 15 members to its expanded force.

The additional officers were introduced to the public at the precinct’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 9 by Captain Thomas Pascale.

Senator Joseph Addabbo welcomed the cops during the meeting, congratulating Pascale on the new additions and thanking him for keeping the neighborhood safe.

Regardless of the inclusion, Addabbo surmises the area continuously requires extra police.

“While I’ll always be grateful for [additional] cops, I’ll always advocate for more,” said Addabbo.

According to Addabbo, the 106th Precinct loses officers every summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, to reassignments in the Rockaways.
Anticipating the area’s first summer following the opening of Resorts World Casino New York, four additional officers will be designated to the entertainment facility during the weekends.

Addabbo feels there has not necessarily been a recent spike in crime, contrary to recent published reports. He added that area police deal mainly with grand larcenies and burglaries, rather than major, violent crimes.

“We should never just react to spikes in crime. We should prevent them,” said Addabbo. “Local residents want to see a patrol car come down their block. They want to see a presence.”

According to CompStat, the number of grand larcenies in the 106th Precinct over the past year has increased by 35.2 percent.
Community Council president Frank Dardani, who advocated for more officers on behalf of local residents, claims the request for additional police is an ongoing occurrence in the 106th Precinct.

According to Dardani, the extra cops come from impact precincts – ones with high numbers of gun-related and violent crimes – and have been on the job for several years. Dardani said that rookie officers are often sent to work these neighborhoods to dissipate crime by flooding them with an obvious police presence. In Queens, the 101st, 103rd and 113th Precincts are impacts, Dardani said.

He feels the opening of Resorts World should have earned the area between 45 and 50 additional officers.

Dardani believes the entire city is in need of an expanded police presence, claiming that New York has been down roughly 8,000 officers since Rudy Giuliani was mayor. He also alleged that more officers are retiring than are joining the force.

According to 106th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Kenny Zorn, the new officers began patrolling the area last week.

“It’s just good to have more people,” said Zorn. “They made it better than it was.”

Gaming can be a royal flush for the state


By Queens Courier Staff | 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.

 

Could Queens get two convention centers?


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Possession is nine-tenths of the law — a lesson Governor Andrew Cuomo has apparently learned the hard way.

According to published reports, when the governor proposed a plan for the largest convention center in the country next to Resorts World in South Ozone Park, he was under the impression the land belonged to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The property, however, is reportedly owned by New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who may be hesitant to sell due to his plans for a convention center of his own in Willets Point.

The Willets Point convention center is part of a redevelopment of the entire area, which will include retail and entertainment amenities, a hotel, mixed-income housing, public open space and community uses.

The $4 billion project in South Ozone Park, dubbed the New York International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICE), would be financed by Resorts World and encompass 3.8 million-square-feet, including 3,000 hotel rooms.

Repeated attempts to contact Cuomo’s office went unreturned. The mayor’s office declined to comment pending further information.

Bettina Damiani, the project director of Good Jobs New York, a watchdog on the city’s economic development subsidy program, is disappointed the city and state have been unable to collaborate to promote the most productive project.

“Why is the Cuomo administration pushing for a convention center at Aqueduct when the Bloomberg administration has already put so much effort into one at Willets Point?” Damiani asked. “One hand not talking to the other is disappointing.”

Despite the recent rush to construct convention centers, Damiani believes the facilities may not be the best venture for New York.

“History shows convention centers are not a good investment,” she said. “A report by the Brookings Institution showed that attendance to convention centers has been declining across the country since the late 1990s.”

Other Queens leaders believe the borough could benefit from both facilities, with neither diminishing the other.

“The governor’s proposal is exciting, but I don’t think it prevents the one in Willets Point,” said Claire Shulman, president and CEO of the Flushing, Willets Point, Corona Local Development Corporation, which is advocating for the Willets Point project. “The one in Willets Point is a bit more modest of a convention center, which would deal with LaGuardia Airport business. Queens can use both.”

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, echoed Shulman in promoting the distinct benefits each center would offer.

“The Ozone Park convention center is great for the borough,” Friedman said. “It is transformative, and in many ways, will help establish the borough as a tourist destination. It is a huge opportunity to rebuild south Queens area, specifically downtown Jamaica and the Rockaways. For years, Queens has suffered from tourists coming into our airports, taking cabs into Manhattan and not spending any money in the borough, and I think this will change that. The one in Willets Point is a completely different type of convention center. It is for smaller trade shows and exhibitions. The thoughts of convention centers in South Ozone Park and Willets Point are not mutually exclusive – they can support each other.”

Board discusses convention center, elevator


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans to build the country’s largest convention center in Queens overshadowed any previous items on Community Board 10’s agenda.

During the board’s first monthly meeting of the year, officials cited current problems with traffic near the Racino and said it would only get worse without any direct transportation to the proposed convention center.

However, Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10, said the community has to consider the jobs the site may bring, “especially in this economy.” She added that the community has had “an excellent relationship” so far with Genting America — the company that brought the Resorts World casino to South Ozone Park and will develop the convention center.

“We’re going to continue to listen and talk,” Braton said.

Patrick Jenkins, a representative for Genting, reassured Board members that their input would be taken into consideration. He reminded them of their year-long relationship with Getting and said the Racino was built with public input.

Shortly after, attention turned to the building of an elevator for the disabled at the Lefferts Boulevard train station.

Joseph Raskin, an MTA representative, presented the Board with design plans for the elevator and acknowledged that several stations needed to have work done. Raskin said the MTA will be using federally-mandated money to make any necessary repairs, as well as redesign the platform at Lefferts Boulevard to accommodate the elevator.

Plans for the elevator are already underway, and the MTA is 30 percent done with the design, Raskin said, after he presented the board with a layout of the area where the elevator will be built.

But Board members complained there currently isn’t much space between storefronts and the sidewalk. They said placing an elevator there will limit walking space.

Raskin reassured them by saying the MTA measured the sidewalks adjacent to the station and found only one side had enough space to fit an elevator. While there will be limited space on the sidewalk, he said the MTA can’t change the size of the elevator because it must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

According to Raskin, the final design will be determined in August, while the contract for the elevator will be awarded in December.

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.”

Gov. Cuomo wants Aqueduct racino to serve as 3.8 million square foot convention center


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYC Firebombing Suspect Charged with Hate Crime

A New York man suspected of five New York City fire bombings was arrested today and charged with a hate crime. Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, was charged with one count of arson as a hate crime and four counts of arson in connection with the Sunday attacks that targeted an Islamic center, a Hindu temple, a bodega and two private homes. Lengend was arrested by cops who staked out a vehicle overnight awaiting the return of the vehicle’s owner. According to law enforcement officials, Lengend made statements that appear to implicate him in at least some of the bombings, but stopped short of a confession in the first rounds of interrogation. Detectives, relying on statements from witnesses and grainy surveillance video, determined the suspected bomber drove a late model car with Virginia license plates. Read More: ABC News

Gov. Cuomo wants Aqueduct racino to serve as 3.8 million square foot convention center

Governor Cuomo wants to up the ante on the future of the Aqueduct racino in Queens and make it home to the country’s largest convention center, the Daily News has learned. The planned project will be highlighted as part of the economic development agenda Cuomo will outline in his State of the State address Wednesday, two sources told The News. “The notion is that (Cuomo) is going to put the project on the fast-track to get it done,” one source said. “They need a couple of big economic development initiatives to announce.” Read More: Daily News

Pol, residents demand DOT repair broken curbs

Queens residents have had their hopes for safe sidewalks curbed by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Senator Tony Avella recently united with perturbed residents from northern and eastern Queens – who have suffered with broken curbs in front of their homes for years – to demand the DOT “accelerate” their sidewalk repair program. Read More: Queens Courier

Transit advocates oppose plan to turn defunct railroad into QueensWay park 

A plan to transform an abandoned rail line into a park in southern Queens is generating a lot of buzz, but a group of transit advocates has another vision. They believe the tracks, which have sat idle for five decades, should be reactivated to give southern Queens residents an easier commute to Manhattan. The Long Island Rail Road operated the line, which once ran from Rockaway, up through Ozone Park and Forest Park to Rego Park. It was discontinued in the early 1960s and the property is currently owned by the city. A growing group of supporters is pushing for a High Line-type park to be known as the QueensWay. Read More: Daily News

Lobbyist Is Expected to Plead Guilty in Corruption Case

Richard J. Lipsky, a prominent New York lobbyist who was charged in the bribery conspiracy case that also ensnared State Senator Carl Kruger, is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, a person briefed on the matter said Tuesday. Mr. Lipsky’s plea would come just two weeks after Kruger resigned from the Senate and pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the broad conspiracy case that has been seen as reflecting corruption in Albany. Mr. Kruger faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced in April by Judge Jed S. Rakoff. Read More: New York Times

Officials Condemn Queens Firebomb Attacks

Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with religious leaders Tuesday morning in a strong show of support after Molotov cocktails hit an Islamic cultural center, a Hindu house of worship, and two other locations in Queens this weekend. “Whether it was senseless violence or a hate crime will be determined down the road. But in either case we’re just not going to tolerate it in this city. And fortunately the number of incidents like this are very low, but one is one too many,” Bloomberg said. Read More: NY1

TSA: Pre-Check Screenings Coming To JFK

The screening process is getting faster and easier for some passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Federal officials announced Tuesday that the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check Program will be enacted at the airport early this year. Eligible American Airlines passengers as well as members of the Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs will go through an expedited screening process which does not require taking off shoes, a jacket or belt. Read More: NY1

 

Alleged cop killer gets into Rikers Island brawl with guards


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Alleged cop killer gets into Rikers Island brawl with guards

Alleged cop killer Lamont Pride got into a fight with two jail guards after the ex-con refused to undergo a routine search, authorities said today. Pride, 27, has been charged in the murder of Officer Peter Figoski after he allegedly shot the cop in the face last week during a robbery attempt in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Authorities told The Post that Pride, who has been at Rikers Island since his arrest on Dec. 12, was undergoing a medical exam Monday when he refused to cooperate with a routine search. Read More: New York Post

 

Mystery Donor Named In Cornell Tech Campus Bid

The person who made an anonymous $350 million donation to Cornell University for an applied sciences campus in the city has been identified. Billionaire philanthropist and Cornell alumnus Charles Feeney granted the money to the upstate university. Feeney made his fortune by building duty free airport shops before anybody had even heard of duty free shops. Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday announced that Cornell and Israel’s Technion Institute won the city’s competition to build the campus on Roosevelt Island. The mayor says the plan was chosen because of the its scale and the schools’ reputations for science breakthroughs and entrepreneurship. Read More: NY1

 

Five Suspects To Be Arraigned In Shooting Death Of NYPD Officer

One day after a city police officer shot and killed in the line of duty was laid to rest, the five men charged in his death are due in court. Lamont Pride, Kevin Santos, Ariel Tejada, Nelson Moralez, and Michael Velez are all expected to be arraigned on their indictments later today. They appeared in court Friday but did not enter any pleas. All five are charged with murder in the death of Officer Peter Figoski, 47. Speaking to reporters today, law enforcement officials said no mercy will be shown towards the accused men and that there is no chance of a plea bargain. Read More: NY1

 

Raising the stakes: Resorts World unveils VIP casino

High-rollers now have a space of their own at Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park. Following a grand opening that drew more than 65,000 visitors, the casino at Aqueduct Racino unveiled the remaining two floors of its new facility on December 16 – showing off high-priced amenities and big payoff games. The new features include 2,514 additional Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) and Electronic Table Games (ETG) at the Fifth Avenue Casino, bringing the grand total to 5,000 machines. The casino also gave visitors a sneak peak at two new 250-seat fine dining restaurants with private dining rooms and balconies featuring panoramic views of the racetrack. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Small plane crashes near Rt. 287 in NJ, 3 feared dead: report

Multiple fatalities were feared Tuesday after a small plane crashed on a New Jersey highway. Local television footage showed what appeared to be the charred remnants of the aircraft alongside Route 287 near Harding, N.J. The heavily-traveled roadway was closed in both directions. Harding Township police chief Kevin Gaffney told FOX News Channel that there were multiple fatalities. It was not immediately known how many people were on board the plane. State Police Trooper Christopher Kay says there is a report of three possible deaths. Read More: New York Post

 

Paroled American Berenson arrives in US

Paroled American Lori Berenson, who stirred international controversy when she was convicted of aiding Peruvian guerrillas, arrived in the United States Tuesday morning for her first visit home since Peruvian authorities arrested her in 1995. Lori Berenson’s plane touched down at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey around 7:35 a.m. The 42-year-old, dressed in black and a black-and-gray sweater vest, was surrounded by Port Authority officers. Her mother Rhoda Berenson, who was waiting in the general arrivals area, sprinted over to her daughter after police escorted Berenson through an area of customs where airport officials check suspicious bags. Read More: New York Post

 

Force of 20,000 in final salute to hero cop Figoski

He had been a cop for 22 years, but it was only after his death that Peter Figoski’s four daughters realized what that truly meant. “We now feel connected to a side of our dad we rarely saw at home — he put us aside from his duties as a police officer and always put us first,’’ the grief-stricken girls said in a heartbreaking statement read at their father’s funeral yesterday. “When a hero falls, an angel rises. Rest in peace, Daddy.’’ Read More: New York Post

 

Kim Jong Il body displayed, North Korea media hail son

The body of North Korea’s long-time ruler Kim Jong Il was laid out in a memorial palace Tuesday as weeping mourners filled public plazas and state media fed a budding personality cult around his third son, hailing him as “born of heaven.” Indicating that the leadership transition in the communist dynasty is on track, Kim Jong Un — Kim’s youngest known son and successor — visited the body with top military and Workers’ Party officials and held what state media called a “solemn ceremony” in the capital, Pyongyang, as the country mourned. Read More: New York Post

 

Firefighter hurt in booze-fueled 2003 brawl at Staten Island firehouse not entitled to line-of-duty payouts 

 The state’s highest court Tuesday rejected a former firefighter’s bid for full disability benefits for injuries sustained in an infamous 2003 firehouse brawl. Robert Walsh, who was injured in the booze-fueled melee on Staten Island, was not entitled to more lucrative line-of-duty benefits because his injuries were not related to his job, the Court of Appeals ruled, upholding lower court decisions. Read More: Daily News


Resorts World’s new gaming floor set for early opening


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

A fully functional and totally revamped Aqueduct Racino is no longer a decades-long pipedream with little hope and less funding.

After a highly successful partial opening that saw thousands of gamers try their luck, the new casino in South Ozone Park is ready to reveal the rest of the facility on Friday, December 16 — a full four months ahead of schedule.

The additional space on the second floor will double the amount of Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) and Electronic Table Games (ETG), while also adding an upscale gaming option and two signature restaurants with views of the track below. Resorts World representatives also revealed a third floor, which will house the largest event space in Queens.

Resorts World president Michael Speller called the casino’s second floor an “alternative” for exclusive members who desire a higher level of play and service.

“The main difference is the finishes and it’s more comfortable,” said Speller, adding that Crockfords Casino, an invitation-only room on the second floor, will offer high stakes gamers a chance to gamble amid an opulent setting. “It’s a very upscale and private gaming experience.”

The upscale casino is designed to lure out-of-state gamers to Resorts World — where Speller hopes they will spend locally.

“They’re [gamers] going to Jersey. They’re going to Vegas. They’re going to Connecticut. They’re going to Pennsylvania,” he said. “That’s all money that’s leaving the state.”

Although casino construction is moving swiftly, the same cannot be said for the “Skybridge,” which is designed to move customers from the A-train station to the casino without stepping outdoors. That development is moving at a slower pace and has been pushed back to early spring.

That doesn’t seem to be slowing down business, as Resorts World raked in more than $50 million since its opening. Speller said that since opening business has leveled off, but the customers are still coming in at a regular clip.

“This has been a very good success story so far,” he said. “Not only in terms of business, but also in the thousands of jobs that have been created here in Queens.”

Speller said that there are no plans to buy additional land for hotels, but he noted that if full scale table gaming was brought to the state Resorts World would be ready to accommodate.

“We can adjust for table games rather quickly,” he said. “We certainly support enhanced gaming in the state and we look forward to seeing that unfold next year.”

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.