New York City is the largest untapped gambling market in the nation, but not for long. The governor has voiced her approval to issue up to three new full gaming casino licenses for downstate including the five boroughs of New York City this year, and Resorts World New York City and MGM Empire City in Yonkers are uniquely positioned to accelerate the timeline to market.
Located on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park, Queens, Resorts World already has a large footprint and the infrastructure in place — a casino facility with over 6,500 slots and electronic table games, a new luxurious hotel, plenty of dining options and a horse racetrack. With ample parking and proximity to JFK International Airport, it is well positioned for tourism and conventions.
In addition to Resorts World already having the space to accommodate table games, a full license would lead to further investment in infrastructure and jobs.
The casino stands in the district of State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., chair of the Racing and Wagering committee. “If they [Resorts World] get the graduated license, we will see a couple hundred construction jobs and then post construction, it could be upwards of 1,000 jobs,” he said.
The faster a fully licensed casino begins operations, the sooner job creation and revenue generation will kick in for New York State.
Addabbo is hopeful that speed to market, a component of the scoring system that’s used to determine the licenses, will put Resorts World in a favorable position. “How fast can we recognize those jobs, those educational funds, the revenue — how quick can we recognize all that? The speed to market would be almost immediate.”
Of course, other developers and casinos are interested in building a new facility, but there are efficiencies built into the existing footprints. By converting Resorts World to a full-scale casino with table games and slot machines, a protracted zoning and development snarl can be avoided. A facility that would need to be built from the ground-up will likely face stiff opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods, with concerns about increased congestion and tourism that a casino would invite in their backyard.
“Any plan to site casinos in New York City must move through standard city land use approvals including ULURP and zoning, and get support from the local government and Community Boards,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, who, although long opposed to any gambling expansion in New York, wants to ensure that community support would factor in the siting if the bidding moved forward. “One section of Queens seems comfortable with their existing racino. It is less obvious to me that my district in Manhattan would be open to such a plan.”
Governor Hochul has expressed her desire to bring a full gaming license to New York City in a timely fashion to drive much needed revenue.
“Since opening in 2011, Resorts World continues to deliver on its commitment to make significant investments in the community through jobs, infrastructure, and philanthropic support,” said a Resorts World spokeswoman. “To date, we’ve invested more than $1.1 billion in the property, and we’ll be in position to elevate that support significantly, if provided a full casino license. We are committed to doubling our workforce in Queens, offering more than 1,000 new union jobs that include the highest wages in the entire casino industry nationwide. Our training and transition programs in partnership with the New York Hotel Trades Council will help thousands of hospitality workers regain their lost employment. We’ll be prepared on day one to make these new hires, generate additional revenue for New York’s public schools and drive an economic boon for local small businesses.”
Said Senator Addabbo: “I always say that, even if you don’t like gambling and even if you’ve never stepped foot in the casino, most likely you would have benefited from it being in the neighborhood.”