Tag Archives: Video Lottery Terminals

State gaming agreement leaves Queens out of casino deal


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators have come to an agreement on a gaming deal that would effectively put four casinos upstate and leave Queens without one for now.

There is a seven-year hold on increasing the number of New York casinos, according to Cuomo’s office. After that, the entire state is up for grabs pending new legislation.

This leaves Resorts World Casino New York City out of the running to become a Las Vegas-style casino with full table games, as some Queens officials had hoped.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district includes the Racino and Aqueduct, said on Wednesday, June 19 that he was still reviewing the bill before it enters the Senate and Assembly for votes. His top concern, he said, was how it would affect his district.

“I’m still going through it because I need to look at the whole bill in its entirety,” he said. “My first priority is my district.”

He added that constituents might not necessarily venture upstate for gaming, but could cross the border to Connecticut or New Jersey instead.

“If they’re going to just have some entertainment, they’re basically going to stay local,” he said.
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder also opposed Cuomo’s original plan, which barred downstate casinos. He said he is still reviewing the bill and is hopeful Resorts World could become a full casino.

“I’m still going through the bill to determine the rest of the merit, if it’s something I can vote for,” he said. “New York City is in the running in the seven years. They’re on an equal footing as everyone else in seven years.”

Along with colleagues and business leaders, Addabbo and Goldfeder argued that if the referendum passes, Resorts World could be a fully operational casino as soon as January. They said an expanded wagering facility would have led to 1,000 jobs along with stimulating the economy in the area.

Cuomo has pushed for upstate casinos, which are expected to boost tourism, since his State of the State address earlier this year. Throughout negotiations, his goal was to make sure full casinos come to upstate New York first.

“Today’s agreement with the Legislature would establish world-class destination gaming resorts to attract tourists to Upstate New York, generating economic activity for local businesses and creating thousands of good paying jobs where we need it most,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) similar to those at Resorts World will also expand in the state. Nassau and Suffolk Counties are possible sites. According to the governor’s office, the number of VLTs could increase if the November referendum cannot pass in order to make up for revenue expected from full casinos.

 

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Raising the stakes: Resorts World unveils VIP casino


| smosco@queenscourier.com

RESORTS AGAIN AGAIN 024w

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.

“We are ecstatic to open our full facility to the public today, well ahead of schedule,” said Michael Speller, President of Resorts World New York. “We have received tremendous support from patrons and our community and are thrilled to offer even more options for visitors to enjoy. These new offerings make Resorts World one of the most exciting and dynamic entertainment and dining destinations for New Yorkers and travelers alike. The enthusiasm we have seen over the past six weeks, and even more so today, is indicative of the bright future for Queens and New York State that we are proud to be a partner in developing.”

With each new opening at Resorts World, the chorus of support for full scale table gaming grows louder and louder. Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder said that bringing these games to state casinos would not only stimulate the economy, but would also add much needed jobs.

“Bringing table games to the casinos in New York is a fantastic way to stimulate our economy and draw more businesses into the state,” he said. “Doing so creates opportunities for countless jobs, increased tourism and much-needed revenue.”

Any amendment to legalize table gaming in the state would have to be approved by both houses in the legislature in two separate legislative sessions, with a general election separating them. From there, the amendment would go to voters and must be approved by a majority before becoming part of the Constitution.

For now, electronic versions of these games must suffice – and Resorts World has plenty to go around. The Fifth Avenue Casino provides a more sophisticated and luxurious gaming environment for guests, with invitation-only gaming at Crockfords Casino. These two new floors are meant to lure guests, as those who hold loyalty cards from casinos in other states will receive free play when they exchange those cards for a Resorts World loyalty card between December 19 and January 31.

As for the third floor event space, Speller said that it is the largest event space in Queens and that Resorts World is currently taking reservations for use. Dubbed the Central Park Events Center, it features 70,000-square- feet of space for all manner of events.

Although casino construction was completed four months ahead of schedule, the “Skybridge” – designed to move customers from the A-train station to the casino – is still mired in the design and construction phase. That project is expected to be completed in early spring.

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

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 as Governor Cuomo pursues full scale gaming


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTO BY STEVE MOSCO

Queens gamers will soon have more room to play at Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park.

The former site of Aqueduct Racino, which received a much-needed facelift this year, will open its final phase on December 16 — four months ahead of schedule.

Resorts World’s full scale opening couldn’t be timelier, as Governor Andrew Cuomo said on December 4 that he plans to pursue gambling legalization in the state as a way to spur economic and job growth.

Laying out what he called a jobs-creation agenda for his second year, Cuomo said, “We should pursue a comprehensive gaming plan — recognizing the reality that New York is already in the gaming business. Through this plan we can promote job creation and recapture revenue that is currently being lost to other states.”

New York Gaming Association President James Featherstonhaugh said that the governor’s proposal could very well help to reverse the state’s economic fortunes.

“We are pleased to hear of [the governor’s] support for legalizing enhanced commercial gaming in New York State, which will create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs, generate hundreds of millions in additional state revenues and stimulate significant private sector investment,” he said.

Resorts World officials, eager to lure Atlantic City customers to their establishment, are offering guests who have loyalty cards from casinos outside of New York free gaming in exchange for a Resorts World loyalty card. Guests can take advantage of this from December 19 through January 31.

“We have been truly humbled by the response of New Yorkers and tourists alike and we thank them for their ongoing support and patronage,” said Michael Speller, president of Resorts World New York. “Due to the hard work of our 1,500-person staff, we’re confident that we will be able to continue providing the highest level of service to our customers as we unveil the second stage of our facility.”

Among the elements set to open this month include the remaining 2,514 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) and Electronic Table Games (ETGs), bringing the grand total to 5,000 gaming stations. The facility will also open two new 250-seat fine dining restaurants, as well as the largest event space in Queens.

The new casino space, dubbed 5th Avenue Casino, will provide a more upscale space for gamers to try their luck, with rewards for Silver, Gold and Platinum club members. Genting Palace, one of the two new restaurants, will offer Chinese cuisine on a terrace overlooking the racetrack. The other new restaurant is RW Prime, a steakhouse.

Resorts World Casino scored big during opening week


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Resorts World

Resorts World Casino, the rejuvenated Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park, hit the jackpot during its first 10 days as it pulled in about $15 million in net profits, while gamblers bet almost $178 million.

This is great news for New York State, as about $1 million of the casino’s daily revenue goes to Albany to support state education programs and the horse racing industry. A portion of the money also goes to state lottery, while the casino operator keeps less than a third.

A Resorts World spokesperson said that large crowds were expected for the opening because of the novelty factor, but the education department and the racing industry stands to benefit from such novelty.

The company also said that it plans to hire an additional 150 workers, bringing the total number of employees to 1,500 — a 76 percent increase from Resorts World’s original estimates. Resorts World Casino New York President Michael Speller said the hiring of additional workers demonstrates that they are constantly looking for ways to better serve Queens.

“We have said from the beginning that we will continue to look for opportunities to create even more jobs and are thrilled to be able to do that so soon after our first phase of opening,” he said. “With our expanded staff in place, our second phase of opening in December will be a tremendous opportunity for visitors to experience the full extent of what Resorts World has to offer.”

The second phase of the casino’s opening, coming in December, will bring additional Video Lottery Terminals and Electronic Table Games, as well as a 130,000-square-foot events center — which Resorts World has called the largest event space in the borough.

Resorts World New York will enhance New York’s thoroughbred racing and breeding stature


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chair John Sabini

By John Sabini

New York’s storied history of horse racing is unparalleled anywhere in the world, and with the opening of Genting’s Resorts World New York at Aqueduct, we’re already seeing an enhancement of our state’s leading position.

Revenue generated at Resorts World New York is expected to drive hundreds of millions of dollars into our education coffers. Additionally, a small but vital portion of the money wagered at the Video Lottery Terminals is designated for New York’s equine industry.

A snapshot of the potential: In Fiscal Year 2010-2011, revenue generated from New York’s video gaming – which did not include Resorts World New York – totaled $547 million for education and $111 million for racing purses and breeders fund contributions. The largest contributing facility was Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, which was responsible for $318 million of the education revenue. Some have estimated Resorts World New York’s education contribution could top $400 million next year.

From increased purse money to guarantee the best horses race in New York, to money to improve living conditions for the often-forgotten backstretch personnel and their families, to incentives for local breeders; there are benefits to all 62 Empire State counties.

Just 11 months ago, things looked bleak for New York’s racing industry. When New York City Off Track Betting (NYCOTB) closed, it meant an immediate 45 percent drop in annual handle for The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), our franchise partner at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Additionally, the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund (NYSTBDF) lost a third of its funding stream. This sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

Through a few regulatory changes, we were able to ease the blow for everyone, but the real tonic will be the cash flow from Resorts World New York. NYRA has already upped its purse schedule for the Aqueduct winter meet and the NYSTBDF has increased breeders and stallion awards based on projections for the new Aqueduct facility. Those projections, at this point, frankly look conservative.

Horse racing is a business and the stakeholders are taking notice. Queens businessman Mike Repole took three horses to this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and he keeps his ponies here in New York. Vinery Stables, one of the world’s top breeding operations, has opened an outpost in upstate New York and the top stallions of Frank Stronach have been sent to stand in the state. Another positive development: there was a double-digit increase in the sale of New York-bred yearlings at this year’s Fasig-Tipton sale at Saratoga. One might say the industry is voting with its hooves, and moving toward the Empire State.

The benefits extend beyond racing and breeding. Viable farms means greenspace preservation. Higher purses mean strong tourism for Saratoga and the Capital Region. The infusion of revenue from Resorts World New York will magnify our reputation as a racing capital, keep jobs in economically-challenged upstate and subsidize education for decades to come.

Right now, New York’s equine industry, from farmhands to mutual clerks, is responsible for 40,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in economic activity. With Resorts World New York now finally in the game, the coming years should be even better.

While crowds at Aqueduct haven’t been like this for decades, the splash in South Ozone Park has sent positive ripples throughout New York state.

John D. Sabini Chairs the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the state’s Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund. A Queens resident, he represented Jackson Heights and surrounding areas for 16 years as a legislator.

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.

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.”