ithin six months, if all goes according to plan, Genting, of Malaysia, will open the doors of a facility that initially will include 1,600 video slot machines and other electronic games. Within 18 months, the casino, which will be known as Resorts World New York, will have 4,525 machines, two restaurants and a skybridge connecting it to the A train's stop at the Aqueduct.
Genting has promised to invest up to us$1.3 billion, including a us$380 million upfront payment to the state. "This is one of the most important vendor contracts New York has ever signed," DiNapoli said in written statement. "It's a 30-year license that carries the future of New York's racing industry on its back."
The casino for now won't include table games like roulette and blackjack because they're not allowed under state law. But Genting, which has major operations in Singapore, Malaysia and the U.K., has made it clear that it eventually would like to turn Resorts World into a major destination that will include upscale hotels and entertainment. This is Genting's first U.S. operation, although its controlling family has been active in American Indian gaming operations at places like Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.
"We are eager to immediately begin investing, creating jobs, sparking economic activity and bringing New York a one-of-a-kind iconic, entertainment destination," said K.T. Lim, chairman of Genting in a written statement.
State and local officials have been dreaming of bringing slot machines to Aqueduct ever since the state officials began discussing allowing them at race tracks to boost that sagging industry. But while other racetracks around the state have succeeded in opening casino operations, the Aqueduct effort for years ran into delays, political battles and investigations.
The Resorts World casino will be divided into three segments targeting different spending levels. The first-floor gaming area will include a circular bar with shows and entertainment "for the mass market," according to a plan Genting filed with the state. A second-floor casino will have a "casual elegant style" for higher-tiered loyalty-card gamblers and a VIP casino overlooking the track for high-end players, the proposal states.
"There are plenty of people that have us$ 5,000 to us$ 10,000 bankrolls when they play slot machines," said Jay Walker, a senior adviser to Genting, in an interview in August.
Plans also call for a 200-seat Chinese eatery and another "signature" restaurant. For those seeking a quick bite, a 450-seat fast-food promenade will be located on the lower level. An outdoor terrace to be named "Festival Commons" will provide direct access to the racing and other race-track events, according to the proposal. "The planned entry to the facility will be a dramatic, three story entry atrium with a spectacular, digitally controlled water show, penetrating all three floors," Genting's proposal stated.
Genting plans to draw on tourists visiting New York as well as local residents who now travel to Atlantic City and Bethlehem to gamble. The company also will market Aqueduct as a rest-and-recreation hub for travelers on stopovers at John F. Kennedy International Airport, about five miles away. The casino will provide a shuttle bus service to the airport as well as other locations.
Genting is hoping that the casino will draw larger crowds to the Aqueduct raceway. While the Malaysian company won't have any direct involvement in the track's operations, executives are hoping that the casino will lead to an improvement of that facility, which has gotten run down over the years.