Project Update: Resorts World Catskills Readies for March 2018 Opening

John Jordan | November 2017

Resorts World Catskills

THOMPSON, NY—The tourism industry in the Hudson Valley will likely never be the same in just a few months because in mid-February a new player in the casino gaming industry in the Northeast will arrive—the $1.3 billion Resorts World Catskills casino resort.

The first delivery of what will eventually be 2,157 high-tech slot machines arrived at the 1.6-million-square-foot Resorts World Catskills complex on Nov. 20th during a media tour hosted by developer Empire Resorts.

Charles Degliomini, executive vice president of governmental affairs and communications for Empire Resorts, said the casino resort is on schedule for a mid-February 2018 soft opening where a portion of the casino and hotel complex will be operational. He said that a more formal grand opening is expected to be held in May 2018.

The impact Resorts World Catskills will have on the Hudson Valley economy and more specifically Sullivan County cannot be underestimated. Degliomini said that Resorts World Catskills expects to draw four million visitors a year, doubling the current annual tourism traffic in Sullivan County. The casino resort will eventually employ 1,400 workers, including 600 table game dealers.

Construction is continuing on the 18-story hotel property and adjoining two-level gaming complex that features a total of 100,000 square feet of gaming space. In addition to the high-tech 3-D and 4-D slot machines, there will be 134 table games, 19 poker tables a poker room and gaming salons. In addition, the complex will offer a more than 2,000-seat year-round event/entertainment center, 10 bars and restaurants, including fine dining and an Italian steakhouse created by celebrity chef Scott Conant, Asian fine dining and market, a 24-hour café, food court and a large sports and entertainment restaurant and bar. The 18-story building is the tallest structure in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties.

The cost of each slot machine ranges from $20,000 to as much as $50,000 each and in some cases feature gesture recognition and other advanced technologies that create a multi-sensory player experience, Resorts World officials say.

Degliomini led the media tour to the massive gaming floor as well as the Chairman’s or mezzanine level that in addition to high stakes gaming space also includes seven luxury two-story villas and eight garden suites for high rollers that bracket the gaming floor. On the mezzanine floor also will be seven gaming on demand suites. The facility will also feature two indoor pools, a spa and fitness center.

“We want to obviously appeal to people who are part of the mass gaming market, but we’re also going to very much appeal to people who are very high rollers,” Degliomini noted. In addition, a significant part of the main gaming floor will be dedicated to the growing Asian gaming market.

He estimated that about 190 of the 332 hotel rooms will be available for the March 2018 opening. The hotel, which will be operated by Resorts World, is designed to meet a five-star, five-diamond standards. The complex will also feature an adjoining massive indoor water park, an entertainment village with food and retail space and a redesigned Reese-Jones golf course. All of these amenities will open after the casino and hotel become operational.

On the main gaming level, Delgliomini pointed to the expansive glass windows at either end of the building and noted that the Resorts World Catskill’ design is different from the darker conventional gaming facilities.

“One of the ways we stratify ourselves from the competition is to make this more of a resort destination visitation as opposed to putting people inside of a dark box with blinking neon signs,” he said. “We wanted to bring the advantages of being in this wonderful setting and pull nature inside the building literally and have it reflected on the outside of the building, as well as making the casino experience not something that you see in a regional casino.”

He added that the design of Resorts World Catskills as a four-season resort will make it different than any other casino in the region.

Speaking of competition, Resorts World also owns Resorts World Casino New York City in Queens, which in July broke ground on a $400-million expansion project that includes a new 400-room, four-star hotel, retail, restaurant and gaming space. In late October, Resorts World Casino New York City located at Aqueduct Racetrack added 336 video lottery terminals and electronic table games to the third floor of the facility. The expansion brings the total number of VLTs and ETGs at the complex to 6,050.

Degliomini said that Resorts World Catskills believes it can attract many of the VLT patrons of Resorts World New York City patrons who also patronize Atlantic City, Pennsylvania and Connecticut casinos to engage in live table games.

“What we’re going to do is work with Resorts World New York to keep that business inside of New York,” he said. “To make sure that all of the patrons we are losing to other states can stay in New York State.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth