If all goes well, the planned racino at Aqueduct might sooner or later become a casino.
For now, when it opens on Oct. 1, the Resorts World New York casino have only video lottery terminals (VLTs) for its patrons to play.
But Genting, the casino’s owner, wants to incorporate a Las Vegas-style casino with table games for the establishment’s gamblers. Genting has begun lobbying state officials to permit table games at its soon-to-be-opened Aqueduct casino facility. According to media reports, Genting is spending $1 million a year with lobbyists in Albany in this effort.
“We have table games in the surrounding three states (New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania),” Michael Speller, president of Resorts World New York, said during a State Senate Racing Committee hearing on February 7 of this year.
The committee is considering a proposal for a constitutional amendment to permit table games. Currently, state legislation only authorizes the Aqueduct casino to have VLTs, so a constitutional amendment would be required for the casino to have table games
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) will be the subject of yet another audit by the state comptroller’s office. This will be the third audit of the agency since 2008.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said he wants to take another look at NYRA’s books to determine whether it has appropriately followed his recommendations from two earlier audits that called for significant cost reductions, including salaries and consultant fees.
NYRA, according to its 2011 budget, expects to see an $11 million deficit this year after a $17 million operating deficit last year. NYRA has not posted a profit since 2000.
The agency is counting heavily on new gaming revenues from the Aqueduct casino to become profitable again. It is expected to receive at least $25 million annually for operating costs and capital improvement projects from thousand of video lottery terminals that will be installed.
The state Inspector General is also reviewing NYRA’s books.
Resorts World New York Casino patrons will have an additional layer of security as they come and go to the trains in the form of city transit officers.
Captain Roy Kaplan, commanding officer of Transit District 23, told members of the 106th Precinct Community Council at their meeting last week that once the casino opens he will be directing his resources to the local train stations and the surrounding area.
Kaplan said he would work hand in hand with 106th Precinct commanding officer Captain Thomas Pascale to coordinate security at the South Ozone Park casino.
According to reports, Genting is thinking about installing a convention center near to the Aqueduct racetrack. Genting officials unveiled the plans before a state board and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. last month.
Addabbo said a convention center would likely be welcomed in Queens because of the revenue it would generate for the city and state.
Currently, the only convention center is the Jacob Javitz center in Manhattan.
With all the hype of a racino coming to South Ozone Park, residents have expressed concerns about safety at almost every community meeting.
In May, over 100 neighborhood residents attended Community Board 10’s monthly meeting to address the potential problems that the rush of visitors would bring the neighborhood.
They all asked Patrol Borough Queens South Assistant Chief James Secreto one question: how many police officers will be assigned to the area surrounding the soon-to-open Resorts World Casino in Ozone Park?
Even, Councilman Eric Ulrich requested more police presence at Aqueduct. He sent a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in June, stating that he believes “this request is warranted given the size and scope of the new venue and the necessary planning that will go into maintaining a good quality of life for area residents.”
At the time, Secreto assured the residents that he was working on the issue and trying to get more cops from the 106th Precinct around the racino. Last month, he told attendees of the 106th Precinct Community Council meeting that if One Police Plaza didn’t give him the additional police officers he has requested, he will provide them from the borough’s resources.
Not everyone is so sure that the area will receive a greater police presence before the racino opens. Howie Kamph, president of the Ozone Park Civic Association, told the Leader-Observer paper, “I hope they give it to us, but I think they’ll play the wait-and-see game.” He applauded Ulrich for making the effort to get more cops.
There is a projected 8.4 million people visiting the casino annually, there is set to be an average of 23,000 people who will be passing through the community
“One way or another we are going to have cops there,” Secreto said.
A hiring center was opened last month in an effort to hire more people from the neighborhood. The company is said to hire 1,150 employees.
Local residents have already started to take advantage, like Shatima Williams and Najah Abdulkhabir but others are concerned. The Jamaica branch of the NAACP is worried that the company will not hire enough residents from Southeast Queens, which was hit especially hard by the economic recession.
The center will be open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Four RWNY staff members will be on hand to help people with the application process. Potential employees can either drop off their resumes or fill out an application.
On top of promising jobs and good entertainment, RWNY is also promising good food.
According to YourNabe.com: “From Cantonese cuisine to Wolfgang Puck, the developer of the Aqueduct racino announced the numerous food options that will be available at the Ozone Park track.”
There will be two signature restaurants – Genting Palace, which will serve authentic fine-dining cuisine by veteran Hong Kong chefs, and RW Prime, which will feature prime steaks, fresh seafood and other fine gourmet offerings.
Both are said to have 200-person seating capacities. In addition to the signature restaurants, Resorts World is also offering an international buffet that will be able to seat 450 guests.
The Resorts World New York casino is opening its doors earlier than expected. Although the expected date is not yet determined, the opening is set for late summer.
According to the Queens Ledger, 2,500 video lottery terminals (VLTs) will be operational – rather than the 1,600 originally slated – when the casino opens.
According to the article, with the accelerated schedule – which will now take place in two phases, rather than three – not only will more VLTs be operational when the first stage launches, but the main entry, the international buffet and the parking garage will be part of the initial opening, as well.
So, what do you think? Excited about this development? Will you visit the casino? Or does the idea of a casino in a residential neighborhood sound like a bad idea?