However, Genting, the casino’s owner, has much grander plans. The company wants to incorporate a Las Vegas-style casino with table games for the establishment’s gamblers.
Genting has begun lobbying state officials to permit table games at its soon-to-be-opened Aqueduct casino facility. According to media reports, Genting is spending $1 million a year with lobbyists in Albany in this effort.
“We have table games in the surrounding three states (New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania),” Michael Speller, president of Resorts World New York, said during a State Senate Racing Committee hearing on February 7 of this year.
The committee is considering a proposal for a constitutional amendment to permit table games.
Touting that full-fledged casinos at New York racetracks could create upwards of 10,000 new jobs and generate millions of dollars in increased revenue for the state, Speller hoped to convince the committee.
Currently, state legislation only authorizes the Aqueduct casino to have VLTs, so a constitutional amendment would be required for the casino to have table games.
The amendment has the backing of the area’s legislators. State Senator Joseph Addabbo said that in his opinion table games are on the horizon.
Assemblyman Michael Miller agreed. “It’s a great opportunity to bring a full-fledged casino to the area,” he said.
Resorts World New York officials said they would welcome table games, but are currently focused on opening the casino.
“We've been consistent and clear in our belief that our local area would benefit from the thousands of jobs – and all of New York State would benefits from the tax revenue – that would come with table games at Resorts World,” said company spokesman Stefan Friedman. “Therefore we, along with our partners at the New York Gaming Association, support a constitutional referendum on table games."
James Featherstonhaugh, president of the New York Gaming Association, a coalition of nine racino operators, told an Albany newspaper that Genting is building a lobbying team to help push the NYGA agenda. “They’re staffing up to get NYGA’s constitutional amendment,” he said.
A change in the state constitution would require adoption by two separately elected sessions of the state legislature and then voter backing in a statewide referendum. The earliest such a statewide vote could occur is November 2013.
Native American Indian tribes recognized by the federal government, unlike private operators, have the right to build and operate full-fledged casinos with table games such as blackjack, poker and roulette that betters prefer.
Tribes also received news last month that the U.S. Department of Interior rescinded a Bush-era rule and said that it would consider allowing Indian tribes to build casinos far from their reservations, raising the possibility that new gambling resorts could be built close to New York City.
The rule, adopted in January 2008, said that tribes could not open casinos beyond commuting distance from their reservations.
Other table game competitors for the slot-only Aqueduct casino are the gambling cruise ships operating out of Freeport, L.I., which sail in the Atlantic past the 3-mile limit where gambling is permitted. One company, taking aim directly at the Aqueduct racino, has touted its off-shore offerings as a better bet.
There is also competition from tribal casinos in the state. Turning Stone near Syracuse and Seneca’s two locations near Buffalo already operate full-service gaming.