New York's first casino in a shopping mall set to open in Newburgh
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- As casino gaming is expanding in New York, retail malls are struggling.
Now, those two trends have merged in the Orange County town of Newburgh.
On Wednesday, CBS2 visited the soon-to-open, first-ever casino inside a New York shopping mall.
A flock of seagulls outnumbered cars at the Newburgh Mall, where Sears just closed and many storefronts are empty.
But in the old Bon-Ton department store space, Resorts World Hudson Valley Casino is about to open its doors.
"It kind of went downhill. It was almost ready to fold, the mall," casino employee Renee Goldman said.
Goldman is a Newburgh area native who remembers the space as a mall anchor store. Now, she's one of 250 employees ready to greet gamblers who will take aim at 1,200 slot machines and 82 electronic table games.
"The infrastructure that's built inside of these malls is really fantastic, and if we can figure out a way to adaptively re-use them, it'll be better off for everybody," said Meghan Taylor, VP of Resorts World New York.
Taylor said repurposing an anchor store saved on construction costs, allowing designers to focus on interior finishes that reflect the Hudson Valley surroundings.
The 90,000 square-foot facility is missing something you find inside most casinos -- a restaurant. The thinking is the casino will draw new customers, creating demand for new businesses inside the struggling mall.
"Now that you have the customer base, there will be the restaurants, and maybe shops, jewelry stores, that type of thing that usually follows a casino," Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio said. "That will really help the owner of the mall stay above water."
Two casinos recently opened in malls in southern Pennsylvania. Both report the vacancy rate is down and mall foot traffic is up.
With New York expanding in-person gaming and online sports betting, some worry about compulsive gambling.
"Any time we see an increase in access and availability for something, there's always the potential for more problems. We definitely have seen an increase in our calls across the state," said Colleen Jones of the New York Council on Problem Gaming.
So funding for addiction services is also increasing.
The casino in a New York mall is set to open on Dec. 28.
The casino will pay the town of Newburgh a $3 million yearly fee. Area residents were given priority for jobs, which average $72,000 per year in salary and benefits.Tony Aiello
Tony Aiello serves as a CBS2 general assignment reporter with a focus on covering news and breaking stories in the Northern Suburbs.