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Gambling at Aqueduct

FAQs on a Racino in New York City

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Aqueduct casino

Aqueduct casino

Photo (c) John Roleke

Is there a casino at Aqueduct?
Not exactly. The gaming facility at Aqueduct is a racino with video slots and other electronic games. Everyone calls it the Aqueduct casino, but there are no table games and no dealers. It opened in October 2011 as Resorts World Casino New York City, run by Genting New York, a subsidiary of the multi-national gaming company Genting Group.

What's a racino?
A combination racetrack and casino. In New York, racinos have only video gaming machines. Aqueduct is the only one in New York City. The next closest racino is Empire City at Yonkers. At Aqueduct the VLT games cost from a penny to $100 or more to play. The gaming floors are open from 8 a.m. till 4 a.m., seven days a week.

The first racino in New York opened in January 2004; it's the successful Saratoga Gaming and Raceway in Upstate New York.

What About Horse Racing and Gambling on the Ponies?
You can still do that at Aqueduct Racetrack. The casino and racetrack clubhouse and stands are connected. You walk from one to the other, play a slot here and bet on a pony there. The season at Aqueduct racetrack is from the fall to spring.

What is a VLT? What's video lottery? Is it the same as video poker?
VLT stands for video lottery terminal. They are sometimes called VGMs, or video gaming machines. They are basically electronic slot machines. You can find different games on machines throughout the casino. There are slot machines, poker, baccarat, roulette, and Sic Bo. You can put in money. Winnings are printed on a slip of paper that can be cashed in. Although Genting operate the VLTs at Aqueduct, the game outcomes are controlled by a central server run by the New York State Lottery.

Where do the profits go?
To the gambling company Genting. The state does receive a lot of the earnings with most earmarked for education.

Is gambling legal in New York?
In October 2001, New York State passed a law allowing video gaming at racetracks. It has been revised a few times since then, most recently allowing more money to go to the racino operators. The machines are operated by the New York State Lottery. The Aqueduct gaming facility is the only large legal gambling site in New York City.

In January 2012, New York State Governor Cuomo proposed amending New York's constitution to legalize casino-style gambling (that includes table games and dealers) throughout the state. That could lead to Aqueduct becoming a full casino.

What are the plans for the Aqueduct gambling facility?
The facility's racetrack has been cleaned up. There are 2 floors open at the casino (new contraction) and a third floor that's been built but not open yet. The plan is for the third floor to be a reception hall. The two gaming floors include a food court, two restaurants, and a gift shop. There's outdoor parking and a parking garage connected to the casino. Under construction is a walkway connecting the subway station to the casino.

What about the Aqueduct Convention Center?
In January 2012, Genting signed a letter of agreement with New York State, pledging $4 billion to build the largest convention center in the country at Aqueduct. There are still few details, but the proposed facility would be a 3.8 million square-foot convention center. The state would make adjacent Port Authority land available for the development and further develop mass transit to the site.

Why's Aqueduct gambling so important for New York State?
It's revenue for a state with a big deficit. Genting estimates the state will receive $300 million a year, on top of the $380 million licensing fee paid by the company in 2010. The facility is expected to draw 20,000 people a day and generate $1.5 million a day in revenue for the state.

What's Aqueduct gambling mean for South Ozone Park and Queens?
For South Ozone Park, obviously, there has been a lot of construction, There might be a lot more. There's also been a tremendous amount of traffic. On weekends, traffic to the casino has backed up on the Belt Parkway. (Directions to Aqueduct racetrack and casino)

Some fear a rise in the crime rate, but there's no data as of January 2012 to confirm or deny that claim.

What's the catch?
Besides gambling addiction? Addictive behavior for gambling affects something like 1% of the population. Gambling some call a tax on the poor. And, where there's money, there are usually crooks, whether in office or not.

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