Genting Group Billionaire KT Lim Makes Bid to Privatize Resorts World Catskills Casino in Upstate New York

Posted on: July 26, 2019, 07:52h. 

Last updated on: July 27, 2019, 12:45h.

Kok Thay Lim, the chairman of Malaysia-based Genting Group, has announced his intention to acquire all of the remaining outstanding shares of Empire Resorts in an effort to take the company private.

Genting Group Resorts World Catskills
Billionaire KT Lim of the Genting Group wants to become the sole owner of Resorts World Catskills. (Image: The Straits Times/RW Catskills/

Lim, worth an estimated $4.1 billion by Forbes, currently owns an 86 percent stake in Empire Resorts. The company is the parent to the $1 billion Resorts World Catskills casino in upstate New York that opened in February of 2018.

In a press release, Lim says through a spokesperson that he’s working on a financing plan to buy the outstanding shares. His reason, he claims, is to protect the 1,600 workers at the struggling casino resort.

Today’s announcement reaffirms Mr. Lim’s strong commitment to Resorts World Catskills. We strongly believe that taking the company private will result in greater efficiencies and a bright future for Resorts World Catskills,” Lim communications director Stefan Friedman said in a release.

Genting was founded in 1965 by Lim’s father Goh Tong Lim. Over the years, the conglomerate has expanded and diversified, and today owns businesses in the energy, biotechnology, and agriculture sectors.

Coping Skills

Genting Group owns Resorts World-branded casinos in its home country, as well as in the US, Philippines, Singapore, and the Caribbean.

It also has a planned integrated resort for South Korea and Las Vegas and operates casinos under the Genting name in the UK. Genting is also readying a multibillion-dollar bid for one of the three Japan casino permits.

While Resorts World Catskills isn’t under the Genting umbrella, Lim has a controlling stake in Empire. He wants it all to protect the longevity of the complex.

The New York commercial casino – one of four located upstate – has been bleeding money since it opened. Empire said the resort delivered its bottom line a $138.7 million loss last year.

Resorts World Catskills recently received approval from the New York Gaming Commission to reduce the number of slot machines on its casino floor from 2,150 to 1,600. Empire officials said the goal is to remove underperforming elements to “maximize the efficiency of asset utilization and patron opportunity.”

That could hint that the new floor space could soon house a sportsbook. New York lawmakers have signed off on allowing the four upstate commercial casinos, as well as tribal gaming venues, to take sports bets. Operations went live last week at the Rivers Casino in Schenectady.

Resorts World, however, has yet to apply to the state for a sportsbook.

Betting on Future

In his announcement to take Empire Resorts private, Lim said Resorts World Catskills isn’t fully finished.

The adjacent Monster Golf Course is being redesigned by famed architect Rees Jones. Empire is paying $21.2 million for the renovation, which is scheduled to be completed this fall.

Mr. Lim strongly believes in the long-term potential of Resorts Word Casino Catskills,” his spokesman added.

Traded on the NASDAQ, shares of Empire Resorts skyrocketed 11 percent on news of Lim’s intent to buy out investors. Over the last month, the stock has gone from $8.85 to $10.63 – a more than 20 percent gain.