New York ranks fourth among US states in terms of population. Only California, Texas and Florida exceed the Empire State’s estimated total of 19.85 million inhabitants.
Over 30 casinos can be found across 23 different New York cities, with Waterloo, Bridgeport, Saratoga Springs and Verona among those where games can be enjoyed.
Sullivan County was popular for its hotels and resorts from the 1920s until the 1970s, with Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman and Joan Rivers among the comedians to hone their craft in the Catskill Mountains region.
Whether it be the local Jewish communities nearby or the tourists keen on outdoor activities or visiting the Monticello Raceway, there is now also a sparkling new casino to step inside too.
Opening on February 8th, Resorts World Catskills houses a 100,000 square foot casino, which features 2,150 gaming machines and the opportunity to play 150 live table games, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat and Pai Gow Tiles.
There is also a poker room that includes 19 tables, 80 dealers and 171 possible seats.
Empire Resorts have spent $1.2 billion putting together the complete entertainment complex and this was one of three casino licences given out in 2015 in the hope of revitalising the economy in the Upstate New York area.
The competition and location
One of the main concerns raised previously is that the casino has been built in a fiercely competitive area, which is not only oversaturated with commercial casinos, but casinos that have announced they are behind projections for expected revenues.
However, there is belief that being closer to New York City will represent a significant advantage, with Resorts World Catskills located about 90 miles from Manhattan.
The other two new casinos – del Lago Resorts Casino and River Casinos Resort located in the Finger Lakes and Schenectady County respectively – will struggle to draw in the same visitors.
Alongside these three recent additions to the Upstate New York casino offerings, there are also six Indian nation casinos (with a seventh on the way) and seven racinos competing for custom.
Where Resorts World Catskills has the scope to pull ahead of the competition is through its other offerings, lack of limitations through being able to offer a wider variety of games, it’s high-end nature and the lure of a different gaming audience.
Also on the plans for the complete complex is a 2,500-seat events space, which has the scope to host everything from concerts, to weddings, to live sporting events.
Then there’s a water park and an 18-hole golf course on the agenda for next year.
VIP customers should expect a better experience than they receive at other casinos too due to not only having their own check-in, but also through private gaming salons divided from the main casino floor.
The target audience
The other edge that Resorts World Catskills may have is that it is targeting a different audience from other casinos nearby.
Resorts World is already a recognisable name in the Asian gaming market and the hope is to attract this audience to New York, as well as Las Vegas, when visiting the US.
It has a licensing agreement with the Genting Group, which has previously run into some difficulties breaking into the US market, despite already having footholds in locations ranging from England, to Singapore, to the Bahamas.
The majority shareholder in Catskills is Genting chairman Lim Kok Thay, who is more than familiar with the Asian gaming market and has put up close to $400 million towards the build.
Asian appeal is instantly seen in the design of the resort, while a third of the gaming floor is tailored towards Asian-themed games.
While casino classics can be enjoyed on the main floor, there is a whole wing dedicated to the likes of Pai Gow and a dice game called Sic Bo.
Certain staff members fluent in Mandarin and other Asian languages have been employed to make communication as seamless as possible, while a chef from Taiwan has been brought in to cook more specialist meals.
Meanwhile, the number eight is considered to be especially lucky in Chinese culture, so it is no surprise to see the address of the establishment as 888 Resorts World Drive.
The grand opening of Catskills was even fast tracked from March 1st to February 8th to overlap with the Lunar New Year.
If New York is to become a more popular stop on the gambling map of the US, the unveiling of Resorts World Catskills can only aid this objective.