Slicing into a cake shaped like its colorful building, management and staff from Resorts World Casino New York City celebrating the entertainment venue’s first birthday Thursday.
The casino at Aqueduct Racetrack opened Oct. 28, 2011, a decade after slots were approved at the site by the state Legislature.
After three failed bid processes, Genting, a Malaysian-based company, won the bid, broke ground in October 2010 and opened a year later. Now, after 12 months in business, the casino is boasting its record as the most profitable on the East Coast, raking in more than $635 million in profits in its first year, nearly $450 million of which went to education.
“While we never doubted this would be a successful venture, not only for Resorts World Casino New York City, but for the Queens community and New York State, we have far exceeded expectations,” said Michael Speller, president of Resorts World, at the first anniversary celebration on Thursday.
Hosted by Cat Greenleaf, star of the NBC show “Talk Stoop,” the event also featured a performance by a dancer from the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe and presentation of checks to representatives of the 37 local organizations that received a combined $500,000 from Genting’s charity organization, Genting Gives.
The money comes on top of the $175,000 the company has already given out. As part of its agreement with the state to operate the casino, Genting is required to give 1 percent of its annual profits to the community. Speller said he was “thrilled” to be able to give that money out on Thursday.
“Going forward we’ll continue to do that and we’ll identify as we go forward who those recipients will actually be and we’ll do it every year,” he said. “Whether it’ll be on an annual or quarterly basis, we haven’t finalized that.”
Speller said there was a committee that convened and looked over the requests and community relationships of the organizations which came requesting some of that money.He said the group looked especially at the local aspect of the organizations and how they serve the communities around the casino.
Resorts World also handed big checks to State Lottery Commissioner Robert Williams and Racing and Wagering Board Chairman, — and former Queens state senator — John Sabini with the total money given to the education fund and the New York Racing Association respectively.
The celebration also included best wishes from a number of local officials including Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica), Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway) and Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton. Resorts World employee Eric Rodriguez, who has worked for the casino since its opening, also shared a few words on his experience as an employee.
As far as the casino’s second year, Speller said he expects to business to continue to be strong and announced that the long-awaited subway link to the A train will open next month. The enclosed walkway connecting the casino to the subway is completed and workers are putting the final touches on the station itself.
Speller also pointed out that the casino is running shuttles to Jamaica station and buses from the four Chinatowns in New York City; Manhattan, Flushing and two in Brooklyn.