Sullivan County’s Resorts World Catskills Casino Resort Opens its Doors

John Jordan | February 2018

MONTICELLO—The more than 40-year gamble by Sullivan County to bring casino gaming to the former storied Borscht Belt came to a successful conclusion with the opening of the $1.2-billion Resorts World Catskills casino resort here today.

The casino opening, which was a few weeks ahead of schedule, saw thousands of guests flock to the expansive gaming floor. A host of state, county and local officials were on hand for the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Following an invocation from Rabbi Simcha Zajac of Rock Hill, the ceremony included speeches from Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, New York State Senator John Bonacic, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther as well as from members of the Board of Directors of property owner and developer Empire Resorts and its executive team. Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, a beneficiary of the largest stockholder of the parent of Resorts World Catskills, cut the ceremonial ribbon. The event concluded with a Lion Dance performance to bring continued good fortune to the property, Resorts World officials state.

“Today marks an exciting new era for us,” said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of Resorts World Catskills, “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. We’re committed to having a positive impact on the region and we’re looking forward to continuing to collaborate with the local community to ensure this happens. We are open for business and are ready to offer our guests unparalleled gaming, world-class amenities, and thrilling experiences like no other in the region.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement marking the 1.6-million-square-foot casino resort opening said, “For generations, the Catskills have served as a recreational and entertainment destination for people across the country. This new resort truly heralds the rebirth of the Catskills, and will serve as an economic driver, generating thousands of jobs and opportunities for people in the region.”

“The casino resort has created in excess of 1,300 new jobs and is expected to bring four million visitors to the Catskills each year, providing millions in revenue to the area,” said New York State Lieutenant Gov. Hochul. “Resorts World Catskills will be a destination with a variety of gaming, entertainment, and dining options for tourists near and far that will boost the region and benefit the entire state.”

Resorts World Catskills’ 100,000-square-foot casino floor features over 2,150 high-tech slots and 112 live table games, including Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Roulette and Pai Gow Tiles. A poker room and private luxurious gaming salons are expected to debut later in February. The adjoining 18-story building includes a luxury hotel that when completed will feature 332 rooms, two pools, two fitness centers and a spa and salon. The property will also feature a host of dining, entertainment and restaurant options, including a multi-purpose entertainment room that has a capacity of more than 2,000 seats.

“Today marks a major milestone, not only for Resorts World Catskills, but for all of Sullivan County,” said Luis Alvarez, chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature. “We are confident that this casino resort will serve as a beacon of hope, opportunity and excitement for the region by generating new jobs, driving tourism, and contributing millions of dollars to our state and local economies.”

Resorts World has created 1,500 permanent jobs at the resort, with another 600 expected once the entertainment village, water park and golf course open. Resorts World projects the resort and casino will bring four million visitors to the Sullivan County property each year.

More than 3,000 union workers have been employed during the construction phase of the project, working approximately 1.8 million hours with a total construction cost of more than $520 million, state officials say. In 2017, Resorts World spent nearly $1 million per day on construction activity. At Resorts World, approximately 75% of the 1,300 permanent employees hired to date are women or minorities.

“The official opening of Resorts World Catskills has and will continue to serve as a catalyst for growth throughout the area,” said William J. Rieber, Jr., supervisor of the Town of Thompson. “As the largest project in Thompson’s history, the luxury casino resort will drive tourism to the region and bolster economic opportunity while enhancing the town’s business and cultural landscape.”

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.

The Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark will feature two acres of four-season indoor waterpark space and a luxury hotel with 324 exquisitely designed guest suites. Ken Ellis and Arthur Berry III, co-owners of the Poconos’ premier adventure destination, Camelback Resort, are the developers of the Kartrite project that is under construction.

Aquatic Development Group has been contracted to design and build the indoor waterpark at The Kartrite.

Resorts World Catskills is being developed by Empire Resorts, a real estate development company that owns and manages several subsidiaries in the hospitality and gaming industries. The company owns Monticello Raceway through its subsidiary Monticello Raceway Management, Inc. Empire, through its subsidiary Montreign Operating Company, has entered into a license agreement to use the Resorts World brand for the casino. The company was awarded a gaming facility license by the New York State Gaming Commission to own and operate the casino in 2015.

 

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth