Resorts World Catskills on Thursday celebrated the official opening of its 100,000-square-foot casino in Sullivan County, the centerpiece of a $1.2 billion resort complex on the approximately 1,700-acre site of the former Concord Resort Hotel.
Resorts World management this winter held job fairs in Sullivan and Orange counties to fill about 1,400 positions at the casino in time for its opening, originally scheduled for March. State officials said about 75 percent of the 1,300 permanent employees hired to date are women or minorities. They said an additional 600 permanent jobs will be filled when a planned entertainment village, indoor water park and the Concord’s redesigned Monster golf course open next year.
Resorts World officials have projected that the complex in the rural town of Thompson will draw 4 million visitors annually.
The developer of the casino and its 18-story, 332-room luxury hotel is a subsidiary of Empire Resorts Inc., which also owns and operates the Monticello Casino and Raceway a few miles from the Resorts World campus. Empire’s majority shareholder is Kien Huat Realty, a Malaysian real estate company and a joint-venture partner in the Resorts World company, an international casino resorts developer that also operates Resorts World Casino New York City in Queens.
Empire Resorts during construction last year rebranded its Catskills development, originally called Montreign Resort Casino, as a Resorts World property in a licensing agreement.
The Catskills project is the fourth upstate gaming facility to open since voters in a statewide referendum in 2013 approved a constitutional amendment to allow the creation of up to seven full-scale commercial casinos in addition to the state’s existing Indian tribal casinos.
When choosing Empire Resorts’ application in 2014 – while rejecting six developers’ applications for proposed casinos in neighboring Orange County – the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board said the Sullivan County casino was expected to generate $301 million in gross gaming revenue and $103 million in gaming tax revenue annually.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday said the three other upstate casinos in Schenectady, the Rochester area and the Southern Tier town of Nichols had paid more than $106 million in total gaming taxes to the state since their openings in 2016 and 2017, and have created more than 4,800 permanent jobs.
Cuomo’s office said the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act of 2013 requires that all state revenue from Resorts World and the other commercial facilities be returned to localities. Ten percent of the state’s tax revenue from the casino will be split between the town of Thompson and Sullivan County for hosting the facility. Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Orange and Ulster counties will share 10 percent and the remaining 80 percent of revenue will be distributed statewide to support public education and provide tax relief to New Yorkers.
State and Resorts World officials said the approximately $520 million casino construction project has employed more than 3,000 union workers laboring approximately 1.8 million hours at the site.
“Today marks an exciting new era for us,” said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of Resorts World Catskills, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I’m incredibly proud of all of the hard work and dedication from our staff, local officials and the community that went into making this day possible.”
“As the largest project in Thompson’s history,” said Town Supervisor William J. Rieber Jr., “the luxury casino resort will drive tourism to the region and bolster economic opportunity while enhancing the town’s business and cultural landscape.”
Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, a Mount Vernon Democrat who chairs the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, said the opening of the casino “represents the re-emergence of the Catskills as a tourism destination that attracts visitors from across the country and beyond.”
Reflecting the Catskills casino’s Malaysian ownership ties, the opening event concluded with a ceremonial Lion Dance, a traditional costumed dance in China and other Asian countries to bring continued good fortune and prosperity.