New York Welcomes Third Casino

The third of the Empire State’s four full-scale Las Vegas-style casinos has opened with much fanfare in Schenectady. The $330 million Rivers Casino & Resort features 1,100 slots and 67 table games and is promising around 1,000 badly needed jobs when its hotel opens this summer. The Montreign, in the Catskills region of New York, will be the final one to open next year.

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New York’s newest full-scale commercial gaming palace, the $330 million Rivers Casino & Resort, opened on schedule in Schenectady on February 8.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a host of state and local leaders were on hand for the ribbon-cutting, which drew hundreds of visitors who lined up for a look at the third of four Las Vegas-style casinos New York voters authorized in a 2013 referendum to boost local job markets and spur economic development.

The second of the four, del Lago Resort & Casino, opened in the town of Tyre in the Finger Lakes region on February 1. The first, grafted onto the Tioga Downs racino in south-central New York, opened in December as an expanded casino with table games. The fourth, Montreign Resort Casino in the Catskills, is slated to open in March 2018.

“Today is just all good news,” Cuomo said during the Rivers opening ceremony. “We would be talking about this project sometimes, and I would say, ‘It’s just too great. It’s just too unbelievable that something this great and this powerful was going to happen.’”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy also spoke, along with Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rush Street Gaming, which developed the resort in partnership with The Galesi Group, a Rotterdam firm that is also investing $150 million in the adjacent Mohawk Harbor riverfront, a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, upscale apartments, offices and a newly dug harbor on the river.

McCarthy called the opening a milestone in ongoing efforts revitalize the city’s downtown and the Mohawk Harbor riverfront.

“It was difficult at times. It really required people of great vision,” the mayor said.

The casino features 1,100 machine games and 67 live table games, including poker, on a 50,000-square-foot gaming floor that includes a lounge that hosts live entertainment. Six restaurants, a full-service spa and meetings and events space round out the offering. A 165-room hotel is scheduled to open this summer, at which point the property will employ more than 1,000 people.

Rivers is the fifth casino developed by Rush Street, whose industry holdings total $2.5 billion of invested capital and include gaming resorts in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, suburban Chicago. The company also owned a casino in Vicksburg, Miss., which it later sold.

Separately, Bluhm has co-developed a casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which is owned by the Canadian province.

The owner of one of the state’s existing casinos welcomed del Lago last week.

“We congratulate del Lago & Rivers casinos on their openings and welcome them to the New York gaming market,” said Tim Rooney, president and CEO of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. “Entertainment destinations can serve as vital economic engines, job creators, and education revenue generators, as evidenced by the nearly $3 billion Empire City has generated for state education in just ten years. We wish these new casinos that same success and are excited to develop a full-scale gaming property in Westchester as soon as possible. The economic prospects locally and regionally are endless.”

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