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Resorts World Casino in Queens unveils $5B expansion proposal amid state license contest

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Resorts World Casino in New York York City unveiled a $5 billion expansion proposal on Thursday to bring an entertainment hub, concert hall and more to Southeast Queens — all part of its frontrunner bid to secure one of three full-fledged gaming licenses on offer from the state.

The city’s only casino, located by the Aqueduct Race Track, hopes its plan to spur 10,000 jobs will sweeten their bid with the state when applications formally open up later this year. A license would allow them to expand their machine-based operations to include lucrative table games such as blackjack and poker.

The team behind the bid presented their vision at the casino with an event featuring Queens-bred rapper Nas, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and a long list of local politicians including Borough President Donovan Richards and State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson speaks during the unveiling of a “once-in-a-lifetime” project that will benefit local residents with job opportunities and tax revenue at the Resorts World New York City, in Queens on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)

“The new Resorts World is going to completely change New York City for the better, but nowhere more than the surrounding communities,” said Addabbo, who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. “It encompasses job creation, parks and entertainment, all located right here in Queens. This isn’t a pipe dream or some far-off proposal; it’s a tangible development with a positive impact that the city and state should be able to witness as soon as possible.”

Resorts World was opened in 2011 by Malaysian conglomerate Genting and has over 5 million visitors a year.

Resort World New York City Casino unveiled a $5 billion expansion proposal on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, to bring an entertainment hub, concert hall and more to Southeast Queens, as part of its frontrunner bid to secure one of three full-fledged gaming licenses on offer from the state. (Resort World Casino)
Resort World New York City Casino unveiled a billion expansion proposal on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, to bring an entertainment hub, concert hall and more to Southeast Queens, as part of its frontrunner bid to secure one of three full-fledged gaming licenses on offer from the state. (Perkins Eastman / Resorts World New York City)

The vision detailed Thursday includes expanding the casino floor to 350,000 square feet, which would make it one of the largest in the world, according to Resorts World. It would also add 1,600 new hotel rooms to the 400 opened in 2021 at the adjoining Hyatt Regency JFK Airport.

There would be an additional 350,000 square feet of conference and entertainment space that would include a 7,000-seat arena; a sports academy named for two-time NBA Champion Kenny “The Jet” Smith; a health center; and 10 acres of publicly accessible green space including trails and running paths. The expansion could create 5,000 permanent union jobs in gaming and hospitality and 5,000 construction gigs as early as this year — if and when they get a license from the state.

“It’s an honor to be here, to be a part of this with Resort[s] World, realizing the future, seeing what this can be and what it will be,” said Nas, who also referenced his track “Queens Get The Money.”

Resorts World and another existing “racino” — Empire City Casino in Yonkers — are widely expected to get two of the three licenses, though that’s not guaranteed.

Rapper Nas speaks during the post-reception at Bar 360 after the unveiling of a project that will benefit local residents with job opportunities and tax revenue at the Resorts World New York City, in Queens, Feb. 29, 2024. (Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)

Resorts World also launched a separate but intertwined proposal dubbed “Aqueduct Park” that would be contingent on the “future consolidation” of horse racing at Belmont Park on Long Island. That would allow the state to kickstart a process to redevelop the rest of the Aqueduct land in what could be another $5 billion project, according to Robert DeSalvio, President of Genting Americas East.

He said they hope to build “a new 24/7 community to complement the existing neighborhood” if they get access to the land. That would include 3,000 units of “workforce housing,” 50 acres of parkland and unspecified mass transit improvements for connections to JFK and Manhattan.

“We’re proud to have grown with the Queens community for over a decade,” DeSalvio said. “When we stood here more than a dozen years ago to break ground on Resorts World New York City, our vision extended well beyond that already-ambitious original plan – today, that vision can soon become reality.”

Bob DeSalvio, president of Genting America’s East. (Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)

But before that can happen they’ll need a license.

Resorts World will face stiff competition from across the five boroughs, including a rival Queens bid from Mets owner Steve Cohen; one apiece in Brooklyn and the Bronx; and five spread across Midtown Manhattan, one of which is backed by Nas’s former rap rival Jay-Z.

The state is expected to open up license applications some time in the near future.

Showgirls at the unveiling of a project that will benefit local residents with job opportunities and tax revenue at the Resorts World New York City, in Queens Feb. 29, 2024. (Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)

 

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