MGM calculating odds on city’s second casino

Teresita Solima of Flushing tries her luck at Resorts World New York. Photo by Christina Santucci
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

Another player has rolled the dice and is taking a shot at developing a full-fledged casino in New York.

MGM Resorts International, the Las Vegas-based casino company, inked a $15,000-a-month contract with Kasirer Consulting in late March to lobby for a chance to build a gaming facility, according to the company’s website.

MGM expects to lobby Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as the City Council.

“I think that the powers that be, both in the city and the state, realize that in addition to what Genting is talking about, there’s still potential to do more,” said MGM representative Alan Feldman. “So part of this is having a conversation about the size of the market.”

Right now that market is home to Resorts World Casino New York City, site of the Aqueduct Racetrack, which is operated by Genting, a Malaysian-based gaming company.

Genting already has plans to build a massive convention center adjacent to its casino, a plan roundly praised by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State address in January. Resorts World has already expressed interest in table gaming at its casino if the state’s constitution is amended, but a representative with Resorts World said the gaming facility did not have a comment on MGM at this time.

Before full-fledged casino gambling is allowed to move forward, the state Legislature must approve the resolution again next year and send it to voters in a public referendum. The state passed the first round of legislation in favor of expanding the state’s gaming regulations in March.

Genting beat out MGM’s original proposal to build a casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, opening its casino at the site last fall.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), a member of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said while the state expects interest from a number of parties, it is still early in the process and there is a lot of legislative work to be done.

“I think it’s critical for our state to proceed with caution. While I am in favor of full gaming in the state, we have to be careful where sites are placed,” he said. “I did not envision a casino at every ‘for rent’ sign in the city.”

Addabbo said any proposal that comes in, including one from Resorts World, must be thoroughly examined by both lawmakers and residents.

Resorts World has been a massive money-maker for the state, as the facility has generated more than $105 million for the New York Lottery Education Fund, with 44 percent of the casino’s earnings going to a fund to support state education.

According to casino officials, the revenue generated for the Education Fund is approximately equivalent to the annual salaries of 2,300 new teachers.

“Improving our education system has been a primary goal from the very beginning of the video lottery program. We are proud that our partnership with the state has proven so fruitful for New Yorkers,” said Michael Speller, president of Resorts World Casino New York City. “In addition to the revenue generated for education, Resorts World has created thousands of jobs and fostered economic development in our community. These latest figures confirm the tremendous potential of large-scale development projects in Queens.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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