Aqueduct racino gives $500K to local charities

Crain’s New York Business

On Thursday, Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens will mark its one-year anniversary by giving $500,000 to community charities and nonprofits—burnishing its image at a time when it hopes to be selected for one of seven full-scale gambling licenses New York may give out next year. The casino has not only created 1,700 permanent jobs—or more than double the number it had anticipated last year—it has paid $660 million to the state’s education fund via taxes and a onetime fee. “There were high hopes for this place, but its success has been overwhelming, and there have been many beneficiaries,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for the casino operator, which is owned by Genting Americas, a Malaysian firm. On Thursday, a coterie of elected officials, such as Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, will highlight the casino’s successes, including the 1,100 employees who hail from Queens. They would like to see Resorts World expand by developing a hotel and large convention center, a plan Genting sees as dependent on its ability to offer the kind of full-scale gambling that is permitted in nearby states like New Jersey and Connecticut. As Genting waits for the legislative process to play out—New York’s state constitution must be amended to allow full gambling—it is racking up the kind of numbers that will surely help its case when Gov. Andrew Cuomo decides which operators will get a gambling license. Resorts World hosted nearly 10 million visitors over the past year. It has handily siphoned business away from competing out-of-state casinos, including Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods of Connecticut. Combined, they generated $212 million in taxes since January, compared with the $348 million Resorts World brought in for New York. The casino has also set up the Genting Gives Foundation, which will contribute 1% of Resorts World’s pre-tax profits to community organizations. This year, 37 groups, including City Harvest, The Museum of Chinese in America, South Queens Boys & Girls Club and Dress for Success, will receive funds from the foundation. The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe will give the closing performance at the event on Thursday.