Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady is on track for a February opening, Rush Street Gaming CEO Greg Carlin told members of the local business community on Thursday.
Speaking at the Center for Economic Growth’s annual meeting, Carlin laid out the benefits and expected positive impact of the casino on the region and provided attendees with specifics on the project. The casino is being built on the old Alco site on the Mohawk Harbor.
Carlin is a Chicago native who co-founded Rush Street Gaming. The company operates multiple casino properties, including the one in Schenectady, and the Rivers casinos in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Des Plaines, Illinois.
The Rivers Casino & Resort on Mohawk Harbor will probably open in February, Carlin said, though an official date will be announced later.
In the last several years, more states have legalized and approved casinos being built. While that has led to increased revenues in the gaming industry, it’s also increased competition.
Locally, Rivers Casino is less than an hour from the gambling facility in Saratoga Springs. However, Carlin said Rush Street is confident the local market can sustain both properties.
“When people ask about the Capital Region and Schenectady, our answer is we think it’s a great market,” Carlin said, estimating there are 900,000 people within an hour’s drive. “We try to design our facility so it’s the right size for the market.”
The Schenectady project cost just over $300 million, Carlin said. He compared that to an MGM casino being built in Springfield, Massachusetts, for about $950 million, but for only a slightly larger market.
In addition to the casino, which will include about 65 table games and more than 1,000 slot machines, the project features an adjacent 165-room hotel, which is expected to open in the summer of 2017.
Inside, there will be a spa, a chophouse, a marketplace, a 100,000-square-foot event center and an entertainment center that will accommodate smaller performances.
The hope is that the casino will be connected with the community, Carlin said, highlighting a few ways other properties have accomplished that.
One is through hiring locally. A job fair at the casino a couple weeks ago drew nearly 1,000 applicants, he said. The casino also plans to partner with local businesses and vendors, Carlin added. Rivers Casino & Resort was a sponsor for Schenectady County’s SummerNight in July, and of Glenville’s Oktoberfest a few weeks ago.
Carlin said some of Rush Street’s other properties organize scholarship funds and sponsor community projects in surrounding neighborhoods, adding that each property focuses on different things.
He likened the Schenectady project to Rush Street Gaming’s property in Philadelphia, the SugarHouse Casino. That facility is also located on the waterfront, and Carlin said it was built on the site of an abandoned sugar refinery.
“Our experience in all the other markets we’ve been in is they’ve have had a super-positive impact on the communities,” Carlin said, noting the growth around the SugarHouse site. “We can’t take all the credit for it, but I think we were a catalyst to get things going.”