BY JACK FRIEDMAN
March was a banner month for Resorts World New York, as they set a new record hitting $71.2 million in revenues. More importantly, March was also a banner month for the residents of New York State, as those revenues netted $31.3 million into the state’s coffers. Other winners included the many local businesses and community organizations that benefit from the many customers who visited Resorts World’s beautiful entertainment venue. Imagine what additional benefits Queens could derive if New York State allowed table gaming at Resorts World.
I understand Governor Cuomo’s desire to locate casinos upstate. We live in a beautiful state, and the concept of drawing additional tourists to our upstate region is a concept that I believe in. Tourism is certainly an economic growth opportunity and should be maximized in every way possible, but that same thinking holds true for Queens County as well. Tourism is one of the greatest growth sectors that Queens has, and the results we have seen from Resorts World clearly indicate how important they have been in that sector.
Think about the impact that table gambling would have if we allowed it at Resorts World. Hotels would be built, as visitors would be more likely to come to our region and stay longer. Restaurants would see increased traffic as well from these out-of-state, out-of-region consumers. Queens would receive incremental growth in retail and transportation, and local businesses would see an additional boon to the increased traffic already resulting from Resorts World as a slots-only casino.
Why wouldn’t the State take advantage of a market-proven commodity? This is not an either/or proposition. Allowing table gaming at upstate casinos should not come at the expense of Resorts World or Queens County’s economy. Resorts World donates one percent of the pre-tax profits to the local community. They have generated more than $1 Billion dollars in revenue, which equates to more than $450 Million of revenue to education. Allowing table gaming will allow for more revenue growth, again, benefitting all New Yorkers.
Resorts World is ready for table gaming. Adding these operations would take little time but they would have an immediate impact. New York State can certainly use the revenue. Queens can certainly use the jobs and economic benefits, and the millions of people who visit Resorts World would have a first-class entertainment venue to enjoy. Let’s not pit upstate interests against downstate interests. Allow some upstate casinos to have table games, but let’s also bring that same benefit to Resorts World now.
Jack Friedman is the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.