Genting Is Planning a $400 Million Expansion for the Aqueduct Racetrack

Resorts World New York - Genting Aqueduct Expansion

The Aqueduct expansion would be preparation for expanded casino gambling in the New York City area.

The Aqueduct Racetrack of New york is planning a $400 million expansion. The development will add an additional 750,000 square feet of gaming space, hotel area, retail space, and entertainment venues.

Though it is not being described as such, Genting Group’s expansion could have a significant impact on New York state’s brick-and-mortar gambling industry. One could argue that Genting is showing foresight and vision to build a full casino’s framework, in hopes that full casino appears in the next few years.

Plan Revealed to the NYRA

The formal plan for expansion has not been sent to the New York Racing Association, which has to approve the plan. Genting Group, which owns Aqueduct, mentioned their plan during a hearing in front of the NYRA Franchise Oversight Board this week.

Genting is working on preliminary plans and expects to send the designs to the NYRA when completed. People should expect the plans to be first-rate. Genting Group is a multinational conglomerate which owns not only leisure, gaming, and entertainment assets, but also owns rubber plantations and oil platforms in its home country of Malaysia. Genting is building the most-expensive casino ever built in Las Vegas — Resorts World Las Vegas — for over $4 billion.

Genting’s Master Plan

Ryan Eller, president of Resorts World Casino New York (attached to Aqueduct), said the designs are part of a master plan to bring an fully integrated resort-casino to the New York metropolitan area. While casino gambling is not legal in the New York City area, Genting anticipates a time when such gaming will be legal and is willing to build the facilities in order to quickly take advantage of new laws.

New Jersey is planning a referendum on the November ballot for 2 North Jersey casinos. If the referendum succeeds, two integrated resorts will be built in North Jersey, likely in Jersey City and East Rutherford.

New York City Land Casinos

If that happens, then officials in the state of New York are going to feel pressure to respond. While New York has approved casinos for the upstate regions, New Jersey will have casinos closer to Manhattan. The state will see millions-upon-millions of dollars flow to New Jersey.

In those circumstances, New York lawmakers and administrators are likely to legalize casino gambling in and around New York City. The other option will be to see New Yorkers’s money going to New Jersey casinos. Lawmakers can license developers to build casinos near New York City, but that will take 3 to 4 years to develop. At that point, licensing Resorts World New York City is likely to be a nice stopgap measure. If you have the money to invest in such an eventuality — and Genting does — then it could pay off handsomely.

Questions about Aquaduct’s Expansion said the Franchise Oversight Board had many questions for Genting. One is whether construction (expected until 2019) would cause disruption for the racing schedule. Another is whether a casino might be impacted negatively by North Jersey casinos.

North Jersey casinos no doubt would draw customers from New York. The question is not whether New Yorkers would gamble in New Jersey, but whether it is a better idea to draw a lot of the business to the NYC area and keep gambling dollars in-state.

Eller said that expanding Aqueduct is likely to make the racetrack more competitive, while offsetting some of the impact of a North Jersey initiative. Of course, it might be that the New Jersey casino referendum fails on the November ballot.

November 2016 Casino Referendum

Given the loss of revenues in Atlantic City over the past few years, New Jersey voters are unlikely to be swayed by arguments that they need to save Atlantic City. The people of New Jersey have given Atlantic City nearly 40 years as a monopoly, but it has all come to this. Most do not see “saving” Atlantic City’s casino industry as possible, at least not in an era when the market is saturated and most gambling is localized. Not enough people are going to go to the relatively remote Atlantic City destination.

The other question is whether New Jerseyans want more gambling. Every step of the way the past few years, New Jersey has approved more gambling and not less. For instance, New Jersey’s voters voted by a wide margin to legalize sports betting. Online gambling was approved. In an age when the state and multi-state lotteries are seemingly everywhere, citizens are unlikely to vote down a sensible expansion of gambling.