Real Estate In-Depth: Five Questions with Darlene Monzo, Chief Marketing Officer, Genting America’s East

John Jordan | June 23, 2022

Darlene Monzo

NEWBURGH—More than a year ago, Genting Americas, the parent company of Resorts World Catskills casino in Monticello, presented plans to the Newburgh Town Board to locate a Video Gaming Machine facility at the Newburgh Mall in eastern Orange County.

The new plan was proposed after Genting scrapped an earlier proposal to build a VGM facility at the former Nepera Chemical plant property in Harriman.

After securing all approvals, construction began on the Resorts World Hudson Valley project in Newburgh. Earlier this month, Genting officials briefed Real Estate In-Depth on a tour of the project, which is now under construction. The $32-million project cost has now increased to approximately $50 million and involves the conversion of 90,000 square feet of space, including the now vacant Bon Ton Department store into the VGM facility that would feature approximately 1,300 VGMs and Resort World’s signature lounge—Bar 360.

The proposed VGM facility at the 388,000 square foot Newburgh Mall that is located at the crossroads of Interstates 84 and 87 at the intersection of Route 300, would be leased from the mall property owner.

During the recent tour and briefing, Real Estate In-Depth spoke with Darlene Monzo, Chief Marketing Officer, Genting America’s East to learn the status of the development, its projected opening and how its operations will complement its existing fully-licensed casino in Monticello (Resorts World Catskills) and its huge VGM facility in Queens at Aqueduct Racetrack—Resorts World New York City. Other Genting representatives on the tour were: Meghan Taylor, VP Government Affairs & Public Relations, Genting New York and Anthony Bruno, VP Operations, Resorts World Hudson Valley.

New York State is in the midst of a process to award up to three full downstate casino gaming licenses and Genting’s Resorts World New York City is in the running for one of those licenses, along with Empire City in Yonkers and others.

This month, Genting’s Monzo, a more than 30-year veteran of the gaming industry, answers Real Estate In-Depth’s “Five Questions.”

Real Estate In-Depth: Can you tell us when the Newburgh gaming facility (Resorts World Hudson Valley) will open? How many construction workers is it employing now and how many gaming workers will it employ when operational? Also, what market areas are you hoping to tap with this new gaming property?

Monzo: Okay, let’s start with the opening. We are super excited. We will be opening in the late fall of this year. As far as employees go, we will have about 300 team members (upon opening). Currently, we are employing about 200 construction workers in different trades.

In terms of market areas, Genting is really about diversity. In the United States we have a big property in Las Vegas, which is definitely a destination. The same right here in New York, it is really a triangle effect. So, if you are really dreaming about slots, we have about 6,500 slots in New York City (Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens). Up at Resorts World Catskills it’s a destination property but really high-end. We can deal to the real premium players. And at Resorts World Hudson Valley (in Newburgh) we are really looking for that local (customer). The person that may want to drive an hour; wants to stay for two hours and play and to have a nice cocktail and bet on a sports bet. That’s what we are looking for in the Hudson Valley.

Real Estate In-Depth: I believe Resorts World Catskills had its best month in its history in April 2022 with nearly $20.2 million in Gross Gaming Revenue. Is Resorts World Catskills now operating on a profit or is it still losing money?

Monzo: We are operating at a profit. The property is doing very well. I would contribute hotel occupancy and gaming to a big portion of that. Last year, if you look at the stats, we had lower occupancy rates in both the Alder and in the main tower. Folks when they come and they play for two or three days, the gaming value increases. Also, we have enlarged our food and beverage portfolio. So, just for Memorial Day weekend we just opened Dos Gatos and Las Luces, so outside, you can play games, get cocktails and get a great taco.

So, we really enlarged the attraction. The age demographic is much larger. We have younger folks coming up in their 30’s that are playing, as well as maintaining our senior base as well.

Real Estate In-Depth: Can you break down the demographics of the typical Resorts World Catskills patron. Where are most of your clientele coming from?

Monzo: The majority come from New York (State). We do have a large cross-over with Northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and from Connecticut as well. We have definitely increased the Northern New Jersey market (share)—Bergen County and Passaic County. In New York, Sullivan County and Orange County are really big markets for us.

Real Estate In-Depth: The New York State Gaming Commission has begun the process of awarding three downstate casino licenses in the New York metro region. If Resorts World Casino New York City wins one of those licenses, would there be a significant investment in that property at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and can you quantify that investment at all?

Monzo: It is a bit early to quantify the investment, but I can tell you that Genting came to New York City and has a huge commitment to New York City and yes, there would be an expansion in the total footprint in every aspect. So, they are super excited about it. We have a large footprint on our third floor (at Resorts World New York City) that would get us fast to market, which would be important to New York State and the taxpayers because we can be very, very quick as opposed to someone new that would come in and be under construction for five to seven years to build a facility like that. So, yes, immediately on our third floor and then long-term we have a full footprint master plan that we would be ready to present with our RFP.

Editor’s Note: The RFP for a downstate gaming facility is due in October 2022.

Real Estate In-Depth: Finally, whether Resorts World Casino New York City wins the license or not, there will eventually be three new downstate casinos awarded. How will that impact Resorts World Catskills which I imagine is seeing some business from downstate patrons.?

Monzo: When you talked about (Resorts World) Catskills growing the business, a lot of that came from our New York City property in growing the market share as opposed to feeding off of the casino down in New York City. With the synergies that we will have with the three properties (Monticello, Newburgh and Queens) it helps us to create loyalty. If you play at one property you may get bigger rewards at another property.

I am super excited about this property (Resorts World Hudson Valley in Newburgh). I think it is going to do extremely well. I think we will wind up growing the Orange County-Sullivan County business because I think we can give more to the patron, more variety. If you want to go away for the weekend, you are going to the Catskills. If you want to stay local, you are thinking Resorts World (Hudson Valley)…

This facility will complement Resorts World Catskills, because, when you go to a destination market you may only be going once a weekend per month and you may not want to take an hour and 20-minute drive there. You may want to take a 15-minute drive and to go and play for a few hours versus needing an extra day off for a long weekend.

So, I do think they will complement each other where we will win—all of us. If you want to go and play slots and you got a Hyatt Rewards, you go to New York City. If you want to go fishing and then hit the casino… and play golf, the Monster golf course will be opening up in 2023 (at Resorts Catskills in Monticello) and that is going to be very impressive.

At Resorts World Catskills we have the Sports Book and anywhere in New York you can bet with Resorts World Bet and that is going extremely well. We are going to make sure that the sports bettors are really comfortable at the bar here (at the Newburgh property) and we are branding it Resorts World Bet so that will be fun as well.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth