Rallying For Table Games At So. Ozone Park Site
State lawmakers are expected to vote this month on a constitutional amendment allowing table games at a select number of casinos, and Queens elected officials rallied in South Ozone Park last Tuesday, May 28, to call for the Resorts World New York Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack to be considered for the enhanced gaming.
The rally outside Resorts World New York was organized by State Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who were joined by other community officials, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Economic Development Corporation
(QEDC), employees of the Resorts World casino and representatives of area small businesses.
As previously reported, the State Senate and Assembly will consider the amendment to permit table games such as roulette, blackjack, craps and baccarat at up to seven casinos statewide. The proposal, which was approved by the state legislature last year, must be passed again by both houses-then approved by voters in a ballot referendum-in order to be ratified.
In his 2013 State of the State Address delivered in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced support of a “gaming plan” to locate three of the casinos with table games in upstate areas. The goal of this plan, he noted, was to boost economic activity and tourism in the region.
Addabbo and Goldfeder, however, argued that the state could reap significant economic growth by permitting table games at Resorts World New York, which-according to reports- is considered to be one of the most profitable gaming centers in the entire country.
With its over 5,000 video lottery terminals, according to Resorts World New York, the casino generated over $638 million in 2012 gaming revenues, including $435 million in state tax revenue. Those figures “surpassed the casino taxes paid by casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City and Connecticut,” the company noted in a December 2012 press release.
During last Tuesday’s press conference, Goldfeder remarked that Resorts World “has been a true community partner since putting a shovel in the ground at Aqueduct” back in 2010, as the company has created “thousands of local jobs, increased our economic development and pumped millions of dollars into state education.”
“Post-Sandy, we need to find new and creative ways to help our small businesses to create good-paying jobs that will rejuvenate our local economy,” Goldfeder added, referencing last October’s superstorm which caused billions of dollars in damage to the New York City’s coastal areas including the Rockaways and Howard Beach. “Creating a fullscale, enhanced gaming casino at Resorts World would not only increase revenues for the community and the state, but the impact would be felt immediately in terms of economic activity and job creation for southern Queens and Rockaway families.”
Echoing those sentiments was Albert F. Pennisi, Queens Chamber of Commerce president, who added that bringing table games to the South Ozone Park facility would “exponentially” increase the millions of dollars in economic activity within Queens presently generated by the casino.
“Hopefully the governor doesn’t ignore Resorts World,” Addabbo said in a phone interview with the Times Newsweekly on Monday, June 3, remarking that the gaming outfit is “a proven commodity with a proven track record of success.” He added that the process of selecting which casinos in New York State would hold table games-a responsiblity which falls to the New York State Gaming Commission, he added- should be open.
“The only process is to open the door to full gaming without mentioning sites,” the senator stated. “Technically speaking, neither the governor nor the legislature is involved in the site selection … [but] we all want to recommend.”
“It’s like cement that has not hardened yet,” Addabbo added. “You can still shape it. Eventually, we will have a plan [on enhanced gaming], but that’s still being worked on.”
The debate over where to locate the enhanced casinos will also be shaped by Native American tribes which operate their own full casinos on upstate reservations, the senator stated.
Addabbo expects that the state legislature will ultimately vote on the amendment before the conclusion of the current session in late June. Should the Assembly and State Senate approve the amendment, voters will get their vote on the matter in this November’s general election.
Peace officers as casino?
In a related story, Addabbo announced on Monday he has submitted a bill to allow for peace officers to patrol Resorts World New York.
According to the state senator, security guards currently patrol the gaming facility, but are not permitted to place any individual suspected of a crime under arrest.
“In the event of any criminal activity or disruptive behavior that could be dangerous to the public or casino employees, the security guards can detain offenders, but must wait for local NYPD officers to arrive on the scene to carry out any procedural arrests,” Addabbo said in a statement. “I think that the threat of immediate arrest might serve as a greater deterrent to those who are seeking to cause trouble in the area, and peace officers would have that authority.”
The installation of peace officers at Resorts World New York would be subject to the approval of the New York State Gaming Commission, according to the bill. The State Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering recently approved the legislation and is awaiting a vote before the State Senate.
An Assembly version of the legislation is currently being considered by the Assembly Codes Committee, Addabbo added.