KIAMESHA LAKE, NY -- The last of Upstate New York's new full-service, "Vegas-style" casinos is set to open in March 2018, on the site of a former Borscht Belt-era resort.
The $1.2 billion Resort World Catskills will be the biggest and gaudiest of the four non Indian nation-owned casinos authorized by the state in 2013. It's in Kiamesha Lake near Monticello, on land formerly occupied by the Concord Hotel, once the largest Borscht Belt resort in Catskills.
The other three new casinos opened within the last year: Tioga Downs, previously a "racino" with harness racing and slot machines, converted to a full casino with table games, poker and slots and opened Dec. 2, 2016. The del Lago Resort & Casino opened near Waterloo in the Finger Lakes in February, as did Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady.
Those new casinos were licensed by the state to operate in geographic areas not covered by New York state's agreements with Indian nations. Those nations, the Senecas, the Oneidas and the Akwesasne Mohawks, operate six casinos, with the Oneidas also planning another just east of Syracuse next year. Upstate also has nine racetrack/slots locations called racinos.
Concern that Upstate's casino market is already saturated has been fueled by reports that the three new casinos are falling short of their own projections for first-year revenues.
Resorts World Catskills was originally going to be named Montreign, but rebranded in the spring. The casino and hotel will be operated by Empire Resorts, which entered into a licensing agreement with Resorts World, a global casino and resort developer that is part of the Genting Group of Malaysia. Empire currently owns the Monticello Raceway, a harness track and racino.
The 18-story Catskills casino and hotel will include these features:
- 100,000 square feet of gaming space
- 134 gaming tables and 2,150 state-of-the-art slot machines, including 3D and 4D games, some with ultra-HD 4K displays
- private gaming salons with butler service
- a 19-table poker room
- 332 luxury suites
- a 2,000-person event room
- a Rees Jones-redesigned 18-hole golf course
- a 24-hour cafe
- several bars and restaurants, including a high-end Italian steakhouse affiliated with Food Network star Scott Conant.
The construction is mostly complete, with only some decoration remaining, the state Gaming Commission's acting executive director, Ron Ochrym, reported at an agency meeting this week. The casino has started dealer training. The resort will hire about 1,500 workers.
Don Cazentre writes about Upstate NY casinos for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at email@example.com, or follow him at NYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.