KUALA LUMPUR: As lobbying for a casino licence in Miami, US goes on, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay's Genting Group is looking at opening Resorts World New York as early as Oct 1, though works are taking longer than expected due to the historic Aqueduct's aged structure, a company official said.
The unexpected challenges are causing the group's targeted opening date for the New York "racino", at the historic Aqueduct Racetrack, to be delayed from spring to September, and now October. "There are a lot of challenges with an old building," Genting New York LLC chief financial officer Christian Goode was quoted as saying by a New York local daily, noting that roofing works and asbestos abatement at Aqueduct are taking longer than expected due to the aged structure.
Even so, Goode said the group is still looking at opening Phase 1 within 100 days — Oct 1, The Saratogian reported on June 20. But Genting New York president Michael Speller declined to specify an opening date, the same news report went on to say. It is worth noting, however, that Lim had on June 5 reportedly told shareholders at Genting Malaysia Bhd's AGM in Kuala Lumpur that Resorts World New York was expected to open in 4Q this year and would be fully completed by 1Q next year.
As reported, Resorts World New York was expected to generate up to US$800 million (RM2.42 billion) a year for the operator and US$1 million a day in tax revenue for the New York state.
It remains to be seen if Genting can successfully fast-track the work to meet its targeted launch date. In any case, Goode also told The Saratogian that the New York "racino" will have some 5,000 slot-like video lottery terminals that are expected to rake in US$380 per machine a day.
Apart from gaming, Resorts World New York, which will allocate one floor for banquet space to accommodate weddings and corporate gatherings, is also targeting MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition) business. "Here is a place where many conventioneers can fly in for a day," Genting executive Colin Au was quoted as saying in the same news report.
At present, New York's largest convention facility is the Javits Center in Manhattan, the report read. The Empire Resorts Casino at Yonkers Raceway, just outside New York, last year reportedly generated US$500 million for the state. Due to its proximity to the more affluent Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn customer base and the more glitzy resort-type destination Genting is creating at the Aqueduct, the group is expected to fare better.
Over at Miami, Florida, Genting has ordered plans to be drawn up by August this year, for a US$3 billion Resorts World Miami, though it has yet to obtain a casino licence. Market watchers reckon that decision makers would see the potential for job creation and tax revenue that Genting's proposed plan would bring to the state which is still recovering from a nation-wide recession.
"There's not a single piece of legislation that will be considered during the upcoming session that will create more jobs than this [casino] proposal," Nick Iarossi, point man and lobbyist for billionaire businessmen Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp, was quoted by Reuters as saying in a recent report.
The economic benefits from Genting's project include the creation of some 10,000 permanent jobs, representative Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who plans to sponsor a revamped gaming legislation in the fall, reportedly said.
Besides Lim and Adelson, both benefiting from the exclusive casino rights in Singapore through 2017, other casino giants like Wynn Resort, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment are also lobbying for a gaming licence in Miami. Like Genting, Adelson too would happily pay US$3 billion to develop a high-end destination resort in Miami, Iarossi reportedly said.
For Lim, whether or not Genting gets what it wants, the group has already paid US$236 million for the 13.9-acre (5.6ha) waterfront site in downtown Miami to build hotels, restaurants, residences, entertainment outlets, retail shops and a convention centre.
At a gathering which Genting hosted for some 200 prominent political and business leaders in Miami last Thursday, Reuters quoted Lim sharing his vision for the city to draw money from tourists from China and Southeast Asia: "With planes now able to fly nonstop from Singapore and Hong Kong, Miami will soon connect Asia with the Americas."
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