Why a $1.2 Billion Gambling Mecca Has Fallen on Hard Times


Earlier this month, Kien Huat Realty, which owns most of Empire Resorts, announced that it would partner with Genting Malaysia, which owns the Aqueduct racino, the Resorts World Casino, and seek to buy out existing stockholders at $9.74 per share; the stock is currently trading at around $8.20.

Genting officials said in a filing on Thursday that their offer was “the best alternative available to Empire’s stockholders,” and would allow the Catskills casino to benefit from a combined marketing approach and allow the company “to compete more effectively in northeastern U.S. region’s current competitive gaming landscape.”

Mr. Woinski, who has studied the gaming industry since the early 1990s, said casinos in the United States tended to perform better when they were on the peripheries of cities.

In those spots, he said, they tended to be accessible to a huge number of would-be gamblers who would not have the same entertainment options as people in city centers.

“When you’re in a big city, there are so many other things to do that casinos are an afterthought,” he said.

Monticello does not have that problem; its downtown shows little evidence of an economic benefit, with empty storefronts pocking its main drag. Inside the casino on a recent Friday night, many of the baccarat tables were empty, while poker, craps and blackjack all were doing steady business. Some visitors, however, had simply come to enjoy karaoke at one of the facility’s bars and not really gamble.

One of those was Ronnie Dimmie, a school bus driver from Washingtonville, N.Y., about 40 miles east, who performed a version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” She said she had come to hang out with friends, but would not risk more than $20 gambling.

“We’re having a great time,” she said. “But gambling, staying up all night? Those days are over.”

Michael Gold contributed reporting.



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