The state of New York started 2023 by opening the proposal process in the downstate region of New York for up to three full-scale casino licenses that will allow for live dealers at table games, such as blackjack, poker and roulette. As the process begins to review proposals, elected leaders face an important choice that will have significant implications for our economy, public education system, and the quality of life in local communities.
Here in Queens, we are fortunate to already have a casino operator who has been an asset to the local community and would be an excellent choice for a full-scale casino license: Resorts World New York City.
Since its opening in 2011, Resorts World New York City has generated more than $3.7 billion in revenue for the state’s lottery education fund, helping to finance high-quality programming for students throughout New York. With full-scale expansion of its existing gaming options (which already include slot machines, electronic table games and a horse-track), Resorts World New York City would be able to bring in even more revenue for public education by being able to compete with other full-scale casinos, such as those in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Given its proximity to JFK International Airport, a full-scale casino and hotel at Resorts World New York City would be a popular tourist attraction and offer much needed hotel rooms near the airport for visitors to the area.
Resorts World New York City has a proven track record as a community partner who has stepped up during some of the city’s most challenging times. When the pandemic brought the world to a stop, the local economy in southwest Queens was hit particularly hard. During the height of the pandemic, more than one-third of Queens residents reported that they or someone in their household lost their job. Many lost their health insurance, affecting not only those individuals, but for some, their children’s health coverage as well. Resorts World New York City was there for its employees, maintaining full employer-paid health coverage for all its workers and their families throughout the pandemic. This provided not only peace of mind for employees, but access to the critical medical care that workers and their family members ultimately needed during that time.
When Superstorm Sandy devastated communities throughout the New York City area, Resorts World New York City was there to help. It turned over space to the city’s Office of Emergency Management and allowed the Red Cross to run its emergency disaster relief efforts from its employee parking lot. In the event of a similar disaster, Resorts World New York City has pledged its continued commitment to allow the city’s Office of Emergency Management to use its space as a dispatch center for emergency supplies and support.
Resorts World New York City has further provided millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations. This includes its “Resorts World Gives” initiative, which invests in local efforts designed to improve the quality of life throughout the borough of Queens. To date, Resorts World New York City has given more than $3 million to more than 200 local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, the Jamaica YMCA and the Rockaway Revitalization Corporation, to name just a few. As these efforts illustrate, we’ve seen the good neighbor and partner that Resorts Word New York City has been to our community.
Finally, as president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, I would be remiss if I failed to mention how community support or opposition for major economic development projects in New York City is often the most important factor in a project’s success. Resorts World New York City has the full, wide and deep support of the entire small business community, community-based organizations in southeast Queens and the area’s entire bipartisan political leadership.
Its existing infrastructure and prior zoning and land-use approvals will allow it to have an operational, full-scale casino open for business in just six months after receiving a license. This will bring thousands of new, good-paying union jobs to residents in Queens, where the current Resorts World employee already earns an average of $71,000 a year. Creating good-paying jobs in the area will have a catalyzing effect that boosts local small businesses and generates even more revenue for the state, which means more funding for schools, public safety and other government services.
The strong economic benefits that will flow to workers and businesses from the operation of full-scale casinos in New York City are clear. What is also clear is that Resorts World New York brings a strong track record as a community partner. As New York City pivots into an exciting and promising new period of full-scale casino gaming, our elected leaders would be wise to put their trust in Resorts World New York City.
Thomas J. Grech is president & CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.