Did You Know? Two NYC-Area Casinos Are Among Most Successful In America

Written By David Danzis on May 24, 2024
Exterior of Resorts World Casino New York City for a story on it and MGM Empire City Casino being among the most successful in America.

One of the lesser-known facts about the United States gambling industry is that the greater New York City region is one of the country’s largest legal markets.

Many would assume that the popularity of New York sports betting is the primary cause, and it would be difficult to counter that point.

In the relatively short time since the Empire State launched online sports wagering, New York has established itself as the largest US market in terms of total handle (the amount bet), operator revenue and generated taxes.

However, mobile sports gambling is not part of the calculation in identifying the greater NYC area as a significant force in legalized gambling in the US. Believe it or not, sports betting has almost nothing to do with it.

New York casinos keeping up with the big dogs

In 2023, Resorts World New York City was the highest-grossing commercial gaming property outside Nevada, according to data from the American Gaming Association.

Meanwhile, Empire City Casino was number six on the same list, trailing only the two mega resorts in Maryland (MGM National Harbor & LIVE!), the Wynn-backed property in Massachusetts (Encore Boston Harbor) and Atlantic City’s best-performing casino (Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa).

Based on the AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, the Queens/Yonkers region was the sixth-largest market in the country last year, generating over $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Only the Las Vegas Strip, Atlantic City, Chicagoland, Baltimore-Washington DC and the Gulf Coast regions generated more gambling revenue last year.

Those rankings are based on the annual sum of slot machine, table game and retail sportsbook revenue.

Downstate NY casinos are coming – but not anytime soon

Gambling regulators in New York will award three casino licenses to operators in the downstate area within the next couple of years. The downstate area includes all of NYC, Long Island, and Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

The official bidding process is not yet open, but there are 11 presumed applicants for the three available licenses. (While state officials tabbed late 2025 as the potential target for awarding licenses, two senators have drafted a bill to speed up that timeline.)

It stands to reason that Resorts World NYC and Empire City would only expand upon their current prosperity if they were the recipients of the coveted downstate casino licenses, which would likely open the door to offer online casinos in New York once lawmakers legalize iGaming. The two properties would also (likely) be the easiest facilities to convert into fully integrated casino resorts.

That is why the racinos in Queens (Resorts World NYC) and Yonkers (Empire City) are considered frontrunners.

What happens in Vegas doesn’t actually always stay there

However, it should be noted that the two racinos are far from shoo-ins.

The parent companies behind both properties are currently under a regulatory microscope in Nevada. Both Genting Group (Resorts World) and MGM Resorts International (Empire City) have been in the headlines this year for having either direct or indirect connections to illegal bookmakers.

That could be problematic in New York, where gambling regulators must consider the suitability of all applicants equally. In most legal gambling jurisdictions, any connection to illegal activity is a red flag during the licensing process.

That opens the door for any of the other multi-billion-dollar casino proposals, all of which are promising to create thousands of jobs and generate billions in economic activity and taxes.

Photo by Kathy Kmonicek / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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