Aqueduct racino rakes in dough despite Superstorm Sandy’s wrath

New York Daily News

The Aqueduct racino’s earning power appears to be hurricane proof.

The gambling hub operated by Resorts World Casino New York City raked in more than $8 million during the week that the city was under siege from Superstorm Sandy, according to recent State Lottery figures.

That number is even more impressive when you consider that at Sandy’s apex, the South Ozone Park attraction was closed for a day and a half. That means the racino raked in an average of $1.45 million for each day it was open that week — just shy of its take of about $1.84 million a day during a typical week.

“We had cabin fever and the buses were free, so we decided to come and win some of the money we lost from the storm,” patron Emily Elliot, 29, told the Daily News during a visit on Nov. 1.

The Williamsburg-based nanny wasn’t alone in her quest for a jackpot among all the storm damage. Gas shortages, a transit shut-down and power outages couldn’t stop gamblers from feeding dollars into the racino’s video lottery terminals.

Joanie Kiceina, 52, came from Mastic, L.I., to try her luck after a planned trip to the Poconos had to be cancelled.

“It’s pretty packed,” Kiceina said as she surveyed the casino floor with her husband.

Over the previous two months, the racino had been averaging approximately $12.9 million in revenue each week. The racino had just celebrated its anniversary on Oct. 28, a day before Sandy made impact.

“People need a diversion,” said Rosemary Costello, 72, of Bayside as she played on a slot terminal with a few of her friends. “You need to forget your troubles.”

The areas to the south of the Aqueduct racino saw some of the worst storm damage in the city. The Rockaways is beset with destroyed houses and frustrated residents. Broad Channel is a mere shell of what it once was.

Racino brass sidestepped talk of impressive revenue figures and focused on its role in Queens’ relief efforts.

“Since Superstorm Sandy hit, the leadership of Resorts World New York has been solely focused on the recovery of our neighbors,” spokesman Stefan Friedman said in a statement.

FEMA and the Red Cross have been using the facility to coordinate assistance to the storm-ravaged sections of Queens. Racino employees have delivered meals to 700 residents of hard-hit areas such as Howard Beach and Broad Channel, Friedman added.

“Our attention is on those near the facility who have been so terribly impacted by this disaster,” he said.