Resorts World Catskills announced Wednesday that their facilities would open to the public on Feb. 8, finally setting a launch date for the largest of New York’s upstate casinos. The $1 billion resort will open nearly a month ahead of schedule.
The new casino-resort is located in the heart of the Catskills, in Thompson, New York. Sullivan County officials are banking on the new venue to help bring visitors back to a region that was once a popular tourism destination for those in New York City and the surrounding metro area.
“With our opening, we look forward to driving tourism to the Catskills, stimulating the economy and making meaningful contributions that help put the Catskills back on the map,” Resorts World Catskills Vice President Charles Degliomini said.
The hope is that the new casino will be able to once again draw city tourists to the scenic vistas of the Catskills. For decades, the area was particularly popular with Jewish tourists, who gave the upstate New York area the nickname “the Borscht Belt.”
Vegas in the Catskills
Of the four upstate New York casinos that were approved as part of the state’s 2013 casino expansion plans, Resorts World Catskills is the last to open. However, it was also the most ambitious project on the four and located in the most lucrative location.
The casino itself is slated to feature 2,150 slot machines as well as 150 table games. Outside of gaming, clubs, and restaurants, the resort will also include an 18-story hotel and an 18-hole golf course. By 2019, the resort will also include a two-acre indoor water park.
The new resort, which is majority-owned by Malaysian casino giant Genting, will be joining an upstate New York gaming market that has struggled to meet expectations so far.
The first three commercial casinos to open in the state – the Rivers Casino in Schenectady, Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier, and del Lago in the Finger Lakes region – have come up short of projections that officials and lawmakers touted when the facilities first opened.
Market Saturation Concerns
Earlier this month, the city of Schenectady noted that it was likely to face a budget deficit due to under-delivering revenues from the Rivers Casino, which brought in $2.1 million rather than the $2.75 million that had been used for budgeting purposes. Perhaps more concerning, even that $2.75 million figure was considered a conservative, low end number.
That has led to concerns that between existing tribal casinos, slots parlors like Empire City Casino in Yonkers, and the new commercial casinos, the New York gaming marketplace may already be oversaturated. In March, a small Native American casino will be opening near Syracuse, adding even more competition in the area.
Still, there are hopes that Resorts World Catskills can buck this trend. Located just 90 miles from Manhattan, the resort is being built on the site of the Concord Hotel, which was the largest resort in the region for nearly 50 years until it closed in 1998.