Upstate New York Video Lottery Casino Targets Early 2022 Opening

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Upstate New York Video Lottery Casino Targets Early 2022 Opening

Posted on: June 7, 2021, 12:47h.

Last updated on: June 7, 2021, 01:38h.

Devin O'Connor

A new casino in Upstate New York at the Newburgh Mall is targeting an early 2022 opening. 

New York casino Resorts World Catskills Newburgh mall
The Bon-Ton at the Newburgh Mall is seen in 2006 years prior to its closing in 2018. The former department store is set to become the future home of a casino owned and operated by Empire Resorts, parent company of Resorts World Catskills in Upstate New York. (Image: Flickr)

Empire Resorts, the parent company that owns and operates Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, N.Y., says it hopes to begin construction on a video lottery terminal (VLT) casino sometime this summer. Empire, which is a subsidiary of the Malaysian-headquartered Genting Group, plans to refurbish a former 90,000-square-foot Bon-Ton department store into a casino featuring 1,300 electronic gaming machines.

We look forward to breaking ground soon and delivering on our commitment to create good-paying union jobs for local residents, help revitalize the Newburgh Mall, serve as an economic engine in the Hudson Valley, and begin generating revenue for New York State’s public schools,” said Meghan Taylor, vice president of government affairs for the casino group.

Taylor’s comments came after the Newburgh Planning Board and Town Board signed off on the project last week. In exchange for welcoming a VLT casino, Empire has promised to pay Newburgh a minimum of $3 million annually. 

Investing Despite Struggles

New York lawmakers approved four upstate commercial casinos in 2013. Empire Resorts’ $1.2 billion bid was selected as the winner for the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region gaming license. 

Empire Resorts purchased the Monticello Raceway in the Catskill Mountains in 1996. The company operated a racino with VLTs at the venue until it opened Resorts World Catskills in February of 2018.

With the raceway and new casino resort just miles apart, Empire said the VLT racino would not be able to compete with RW Catskills. In 2019, the state allowed Empire Resorts the privilege of relocating its VLT license to Orange County, some 30 miles east. 

Empire hopes its forthcoming VLT venue will help make up for the unrealized gaming revenue RW Catskills has failed to generate. Prior to the $1.3 billion casino’s opening, the company forecast that gross gaming revenue (GGR) in its 2019/20 fiscal year would come in around $302 million. The casino win number realized, however, was $206 million. 

VLT Casino Project

Empire Resorts is projecting less lofty GGR expectations for its yet-to-be named video lottery casino. The company predicts the facility will generate gaming revenue of $160 million annually once fully up and running. 

Most casual gamblers can’t tell the difference between a VLT and traditional slot machine, and for good reason. VLTs almost identically mirror a slot terminal with colorful branding, lights, and sounds. The primary difference is that a VLT’s result is based on a central lottery system that links all of the terminals. Slot machines use individual random number generators to determine whether a spin wins. 

Empire is setting aside $32 million for the Bon-Ton-to-casino renovation. Construction will require 200 jobs, and 225 permanent positions will result from ongoing operations. The video lottery casino is set to be open 20 hours a day, seven days a week. 

New York is home to four upstate commercial casinos, plus 10 VLT racinos. The state additionally has several tribal casinos. 

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