Resorts World Casino New York City (RWNY) in Jamaica, Queens has broken ground on a $400 million expansion at their Aqueduct Racetrack video lottery terminal and electronic gaming station casino. The expansion will comprise a hotel, several new restaurants, retail outlets and additional gaming machines. The project is expected to be completed by the middle of 2019 and create some 3,000 temporary construction jobs as well as 1,000 permanent positions. Thousands of indirect jobs will be created through the $200 million in economic activity the expansion will bring to New York.
Resort World’s parent company, Genting Bhd of Malaysia has already provided the New York State’s Lottery Education Fund with nearly $2 billion since the gambling facility opened in 2011.
Scott Molina, President of Resorts World Casino New York City said in a press release Wednesday: “We are incredibly excited to break ground on this extraordinary project, which will welcome visitors from around the world to enjoy the ultimate play, stay, dine and shop experience right here in Queens.”
According to the media handout, Genting has long planned to evolve the property into an Integrated Resort (IR) like those found in gambling meccas such as Las Vegas and Macau. The IR concept incorporates non-gaming amenities including hotel accommodations, dining options with a variety of price points, entertainment, and usually meeting space in an effort to attract the broadest range of patrons from all economic walks of life.
The company has already invested over $1 billion in the property including $700 million to retrofit the Aqueduct Racetrack grandstand.
For now, Resorts World is New York City’s only casino and sees over 10 million visits per year. A voter referendum championed by Gov. Cuomo and passed in 2013 not only authorized several true Las Vegas-style casinos in Upstate New York but also allows for one to be located in NYC or elsewhere downstate as soon as 2020.
Genting had initially set out to win a license in Upstate Orange County but none were eventually recommended there in the first round of location selections. They ended up with a license to create a casino in Thompson, Sullivan County near Monticello, at what was first billed as Montreign Resort Casino at Adelaar, but is now to be known as Resorts World Catskills. The $1.5 billion resort will sit on 1,700 acres and is expected to open in 2018. That project is owned by Empire Resorts, which is itself 88.7% owned by Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd of Genting Group.
Competition for any downstate casino license is expected to be fierce with Timothy J. Rooney Sr., owner of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, another New York Lottery-served casino, planning to go all in for a true casino license according to some reports.
A host of dignitaries was on hand as RWNY broke ground for the expansion at Aqueduct including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz., New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. John Bonacic, Chairman of the state Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and New York State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, Chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, among others. Assemblyman Pretlow said of the project, “This expansion will increase economic activity and bring new jobs while giving consumers even more entertainment options.”