A Catskills casino supporters hope will deliver an economic jackpot to a faded resort area opened Thursday in an increasingly competitive market.
Resorts World Catskills debuted with 112 table games and more than 2,150 slot machines in the heart of the old "Borscht Belt," about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of New York City. The $1.2 billion resort in Monticello, New York, includes a hotel and the fourth of four Las Vegas-style upstate casinos opening under a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution.
A golf course and water park are scheduled to open later.
The casino caps decades of work by locals who hope gambling will help revive an area that used to be a magnet for tourists, many of them Jewish families from the New York City area. The big hotels and bungalow colonies that once thrived in this lake-laden region are mostly closed now.
"Can we bring this region back to life? Absolutely," said casino executive vice president Charles Degliomini.
Resorts World is expected to draw gamblers from the lucrative New York City-area market, but it opens amid signs that the increasing number of casinos are eating into each other's business.
A report from Moody's Investors Service last month said the Catskills casino would be opening in a "very tough gaming market" with established competitors in New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. The success of Resorts World will be tied to growing the market and attracting customers from competitors, according to the report.
Meanwhile, slot machine and table game revenue from the new casinos in the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and Schenectady had initially fallen short of the optimistic revenue projections operators produced when applying for licenses.
Degliomini said the new resort will benefit from its superior location and a mix of attractions ranging from private gaming salons to the planned water park. Also, the gaming floor features a "mini-casino" devoted to games popular with Asian gamblers.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the attraction will bring 4 million visitors to the Catskills each year.
New York also is home to five full-scale Indian casinos and 10 "racino" horse tracks with video lottery terminals.