Rivers Casino Hopes to Revitalize Schenectady in Upstate New York

Posted on: February 9, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: February 9, 2017, 04:29h.

The Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, New York State, flung open its doors to the throngs on Wednesday, precisely a week after the opening of Del Lago Resort, in Seneca County, 200 miles to the west.

Rivers Casino in Schenectady Opens
The new Rivers Casino in Schenectady is the centerpiece of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for the economy of Upstate New York. He believes it will return this former manufacturing town to its former prosperity. (Image: Rivers Casino Schenectady)

Developed by Rush Street Gaming and the Galesi Group, the new $330 million property boasts a 50,000-square-foot gaming floor, with 1,150 slot machines, 67 gaming tables, a poker room, as well as a 10,000-square-foot event center and multiple restaurants and bars.

Upstate is reaping the results of a 2013 vote to authorize the licensing of commercial casinos. In 2014 four licenses were created in four separate regions, with the first casino, Tioga Downs, opening in early December, close to the border with Pennsylvania.

The final development, the Montreign Resort and Casino in the Catskills, is expected to be ready in a year’s time.

Regeneration Project

The casinos are the centerpiece of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to revitalize the economies of upstate areas that have suffered from the loss of vital industries over the past decades. The Rivers Schenectady is built on the former site of the American Locomotive Co., better known as Alco, which was formed and headquartered in the town until it ceased trading in 1969.

Alco and General Electric were once the main employers in the city, with 45,000 workers at their peak, at a time when Schenectady was a great manufacturing center. The casino has created around 1,000 jobs, with 200 more to be added when a 165-room hotel opens in the summer.

The Rivers Casino is the crown jewel of the larger Mohawk Harbor project, which plans to bring housing, businesses and other tourist attractions to the former polluted Alco industrial site.

“Schenectady itself is coming back,” said Cuomo, who addressed the crowds at the opening ceremony, as he had done a week previously at the Del Lago resort. “It really is amazing what is going on.

“We would be talking about this project sometimes and I would say ‘It’s just too great, just too unbelievable, that something this grand and this powerful was going to happen,’” he added. “But it did. The dream came true; the vision turned to reality.”

Healthy Competition

The casino is just 100 miles from the MGM Springfield, a $950 million integrated resort currently under construction in Massachusetts and expected to open in 2018. Both developers have said, however, that they don’t see each other as direct competition.

In fact, despite a slew of new casinos planned for neighboring states, Schenectady remains relatively well-placed in terms of competition.

The Saratoga Springs racecourse, 25 miles away, offers limited gaming, while the nearest operating casino is the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, again, around 100 miles away.