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Racino gambling is a big money and job generator in the Empire State.
New York’s nine racetrack casinos raked in about $1.96 billion in economic activity last year, created more than 17,400 jobs and provided $830.5 million to the state education fund, according to a new 16-page study commissioned by the New York Gaming Association. The report also said the racinos provided $179.8 million for the state’s horse racing industry and horse breeders.
Jack Friedman, the Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the report is “solid” and it reflects Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assessment that the gambling industry is alive and well in New York.
The number of racino jobs — 5,431 — may be small compared to other industries, such as airports and hotels, but Friedman said gaming is providing a lot to the state coffers.
“At a time when the state’s in a difficult economic position, this is a new source of revenue which can really plug a lot of budget holes,” Friedman said.
Resorts World Casino New York City, which opened in October at Aqueduct racetrack to huge crowds, had earned a total of $139.9 million as of January, according to the latest monthly revenue report. About 44 percent of the earnings, or $61.5 million, has gone to the state education fund.
The company created about 1,500 permanent jobs and 1,400 construction jobs to build the Aqueduct facility in South Ozone Park, Resorts World Casino spokesman Stefan Friedman said. About 70 percent of the workers are from Queens.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said the report fit into his estimation of the Queens racino.
“It creates jobs, jobs, jobs and that’s the No. 1 issue we need to deal with in the district, the state and around the country,” he said.
Meeks said Resorts World Casino has done a good job in hiring locally, especially among minorities and women, and “all I would say is partnering with the community is a continuing thing.”
If Resorts continues to expand, Meeks said the company also should partner with the community to make transportation and infrastructure improvements.
Clive Belfield, a Queens College associate economics professor, said in an e-mail the study shows the gaming industry is important because there are a lot of jobs.
But “interestingly, the report does not make much of the claim that the gaming industry attracts people into the area,” Belfield noted.
Appleseed, a Manhattan economic research and analysis company, conducted the study. Hugh O’Neill, the Appleseed president, said the company used a conservative estimate for out-of-town visitor spending and an estimate for Resorts World Casino’s winnings.
The New York Gaming Association and Appleseed plan to release a second study soon, showing projections for future earnings and job growth if state officials allow racinos to have live table games.
The report shows the economy is good for existing racinos and “anything that rescues the budget deficit and puts fresh money into the state budget for education is a plus,” said Jerry Kremer, a former state assemblyman from Long Island and president of Empire Government Strategies, an economic development consulting firm.
Kremer added that he thinks there is enough room in the gambling market for other gaming companies and tribes to open casinos in New York.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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