NYC's big casino gamble begins
Will the planned groundbreaking today of New York City’s first casino ultimately infuse a bit of Las Vegas in Queens?
The project, known as Resorts World New York, is set to make over the aging Aqueduct Racetrack site with a sleek, shiny design. Its owner, Genting New York, plans to install 4,500 video slot machines, the first 1,600 of which will be ready by May, project officials said.
“Upscale, certainly,” said Genting spokesman Stefan Friedman of the concept yesterday. “Definitely not Vegas, though.”
The $325 million construction project includes building a two-story sports bar and lounge, a food court, a high-end Chinese restaurant and an indoor water show to open by the end of next year. A new pedestrian bridge will connect to the Aqueduct subway stop.
But when it comes to its marketing, Resorts won’t be courting any specific type of customer, Friedman said.
At Empire City at Yonkers Raceway, currently the closest casino to New York City, the slots demographic skews older and female, said Tim Rooney Jr., whose family owns the casino.
The slots parlor hosts monthly comedy nights as one way to attract a younger crowd, Rooney said, adding that there’s “plenty population” for both Empire City and Resorts to thrive.
Resorts is expected to top Empire City, potentially generating more than $1 million in revenue per day for the state’s education fund.
Some New Yorkers are hesitant about having a casino in their backyard, especially since there won’t be table games, like Blackjack, offered.
“I think I’d go more to the full casino, because if I go with friends, we go to shows and to restaurants,” said Seborn Ragsdale, 42, of Hell’s Kitchen, who’s planning a trip to Las Vegas next month. “It’s the whole experience of going.” (With Heidi Lee)
The Aqueduct casino project remains mired in a state investigation probing how the bidding process was handled.
A report released last week found the initial winning bidder — Aqueduct Entertainment Group — spent more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to state legislators.
While the deal with AEG was eventually killed, it was reported yesterday that Genting New York hired a lobbyist connected with the AEG scandal.
Genting said yesterday that the company was unaware that the lobbyist was linked to AEG.