Queens community groups back Resorts World’s quest for full-casino status

QNS – March 25, 2021

Nearly three dozen community leaders and organizations, including clergy, civil rights groups, and economic inclusion advocates, in and around the Queens community, are joining together in support of Resorts World New York City as the New York state Legislature considers a proposal to allow three full-fledged downstate casinos to come online as soon as the end of the year.

The groups behind the letter that’s been sent to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in addition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, advocate for Resorts World to receive one of these licenses because of the immediate benefit it would bring to the Queens community, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has absolutely ravaged our city and state, but the virus has been particularly damaging to those who faced significant challenges and struggles before the pandemic ever started,” the coalition wrote. “Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have lost their jobs; tax revenues that support vital services are drying up; nonprofits are facing existential threats to their survival.”

The letter notes the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on the community and the urgent need for jobs and tax revenue to support vital services. Resorts World, which has delivered on its promises to the community since opening nearly 10 years ago by creating and protecting good-paying jobs, generating more than $3 billion for New York’s public schools and supporting local organizations, would be well-positioned to continue to fulfill its commitment with near immediacy if awarded the license.

“Our government leaders, beginning with the three of you, have done incredible work not only in mobilizing an all-out effort to curb the virus and save lives, but in taking significant steps to bolster our local and state economy even as we face an extended recession while being shortchanged by Washington.” they wrote.

A full-fledged license would allow Resorts World to create thousands of new union jobs for New Yorkers in a matter of months, adding to its more than 1,000 unionized workforce.

“Our borough and our local business community have benefited greatly from Resorts World’s commitment to Queens. RWNY attracts tourists, catalyzes economic activity that supports small businesses, creates jobs for local residents and generates billions in tax revenue,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “Allowing RWNY to become a full-scale gaming destination will only increase the positive impact they have on our borough, and help the entire region recover from the devastation brought on by the pandemic.”

“The ability to provide good-paying jobs with relatively low barriers to access to southeast Queens residents is crucial to COVID recovery, particularly for families of color with quality healthcare and benefits to sustain a life-cycle for family,” Knight said.

Since opening in 2011, the facility has delivered thousands of good-paying union jobs and more than $3 billion in tax revenue for New York State school children. As the state faces massive unemployment numbers and revenue shortfalls that will severely handcuff its ability to provide residents with critical services, allowing Resorts World to become a full-fledged casino will help fill these needs without expanding gaming in an irresponsible way.

“Beyond the jobs and revenue, during its decade of operations, Resorts World has proven to be a solid partner for the Queens community we all represent,” the coalition wrote. “Through Resorts World Gives, its charitable entity, the company has given out millions of dollars to local nonprofits. The organization has also lent its facility out for a number of critical programs, including COVID-19 testing, relief from Hurricane Sandy, and staging for the Red Cross as it operates blood drives and other community functions.”

The signees include the Queens Economic Development Corporation, Queens Centers for Progress, Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation and Jamaica Center for the Arts.

“Resorts World embodies everything we look for in our partners- generous, engaging, hands-on, and committed to the community,” Boys & Girls of Metro Queens Executive Director David Kupecky said. “It is a testament to the culture Resorts World has built that even during the toughest times, they remain a committed community partner, and we are rooting for them to be able to make an even greater impact in years to come. We know they can, and we know they will.”

Jamaica YMCA Executive Director Cedric Dew also signed on to the letter.

“We rely on our community partners to invest, inspire, empower, and advocate for social and economic good in Queens and throughout New York,” Dew said. “Resorts World has led by an example in this area by supporting our community, whether it be coat drives, food drives, donations, or investments. We are grateful for their commitment to their neighbors and know that if given the opportunity, they can elevate this support in a meaningful way that will help all New Yorkers.”