City Welcomes First ‘Racino’ At Aqueduct Racetrack

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is betting on a new source of revenue.

Huge crowds gathered at the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack — which finally opened its doors in Queens on Friday after a decade of controversy.

The ribbon was cut at noon and an hour later the crowd was let through the doors.

In 15 minutes, the casino had a full house.

“It’s gorgeous,” Ozone Park resident Eva Novoa told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello. “And we don’t have to travel that far.”

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

Virginia Hayes, of Jamaica, was among those first in line for the opening hoping to be among the first to win a jackpot.

“I’m so happy that we have a casino here in Queens now,” Hayes told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I normally go to Atlantic City or Mohegan Sun but since it’s in the backyard I’ll come here now.”

“Queens has been waiting for this a long time,” Bed-Stuy resident Sandra Quarles said. “I don’t know what took so long but I’m just happy they’re here today.”

Albany lawmakers approved an Aqueduct casino 10 years ago but the first operator chosen went bankrupt. The next was rejected after an influence peddling scandal.

The “racino” features 2,280 video slot machines and 205 electronic table games — including roulette, craps and baccarat. Thousands more will be added over time.

Building the facility created 1,300 jobs. More than 40,000 people applied for the 1,500 jobs the new casino will eventually fill.

Lawmakers along with community leaders are hoping the boost to the local economy will continue.

Aiello reports you can play slots for as little as a penny but New York State thinks it very quickly is going to add up to big bucks. Officials believe New York’s take of Aqueduct revenue could eventually reach $1 million a day.

The flashy facility also includes 18 food and beverage courts, including two signature restaurants — a gourmet Chinese spot and a steakhouse slated to open in mid-December, four VIP lounges, a bar and theater.

racino gaga City Welcomes First Racino At Aqueduct Racetrack

Lady Gaga impersonator at Aqueduct "racino" grand opening (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

“Finally after 10 years of hard work it’s happening,” spokesman Stefan Friedman said. “The Genting Group, which is the owners, got it down in exactly one year — from groundbreaking on Oct. 28, 2010 to grand opening.”

Aqueduct is the first racino in New York City, with the next closest facility at Yonkers Raceway.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Casino officials are expecting to attract a large international clientele since Kennedy Airport is just a short drive away.

racino 002 City Welcomes First Racino At Aqueduct Racetrack

People waiting in line to get in to the Aqueduct Racino. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

The racetrack casinos want a change in state law to allow live dealers and full Vegas-style table games.

A recent poll shows that idea wins support from 55 percent of New Yorkers.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow says opponents are afraid “people will gamble away their entire paycheck trying to win.”

But Pretlow says New York loses $5 billion a year in gaming revenue to other states.

How do you feel about the racino? Let us know below…

  • The Realist

    Are NYC residents eligible to work there? Or will this become another Atlantic City (where the casino jobs are “in” the city but not “for” the city because only suburbanites are allowed to apply)?

  • Vinnie

    I seem to have better odds in Vegas or Pennsylvania. And I will continue to take my wagers there. I never get a win at Foxwoods or Vampire City in Yonkers. I must be the only one who wants the racino to TANK ROYALLY……I used to be a frequent visitor to the old flea market when it was there….Besides..the horses at Aqueduct dont run there like they used to. The interest was not as great and they did not have the Tony-like races.OTB is no more too. The developers and politicians are just greedy swill trying to push out the little folk to get more parking revenue and to “upscale” the clientele….um ummm “suckers”. The flea market used to bring in fleets of interstate and canadian tourists. If they worked out a better deal to have opened daily, The Big A would have made a ton of money.Let the place tank, I’ll still head to AC PA, or Vegas for the ride and better odds!!!

  • maryinqueens

    Its about time NYC followed the lead of new jersey, connecticut and pennsylvania by opening a casino in queens. and we should have Vegas style table games at aqueduct because if we dont have them here, the gambling money will go to other state.
    and the racino is near JFK, so we’ll get out of state and international travelers too!

  • ML/NJ

    Very sad. The Big A used to be a great racetrack. Now, for a while at least, it will fleece fools with electronic machines that will periodically tell them how little of their original stake remains.

  • MLB

    Get table games passed and then they will come.

  • Dos Equis

    Asians- Ruv to Ramble , I mean Gamble

  • bday55

    Sorry they’re gonna have to wait for the Chinese buffet

  • Jack

    Do you have to be ASIAN to get in ?

    • david

      Why u not ASIAN, jack

  • David

    …dont look like high rollers to me…just yer average “let’s get something for nothing” crowd.

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