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New York gives warm welcome to Genting with revival of Aqueduct racetrack

NEW YORK -- What’s that old stereotype about New Yorkers being a rude bunch to outsiders? That may or may not be true when it comes to your average tourist, but these days it’s certainly false if you’re a transnational multi-billion-dollar casino conglomerate rolling into town.

Malaysia’s Genting Group — which wants to build a mega casino resort in Miami — opened its first U.S. gambling complex on Friday, in the shadow of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. Though the morning weather was in the chilly low 40s, the reception from both the community and the powers-that-be was warm.

The casino’s 1,350 new permanent jobs were one reason for this Big Apple hospitality, but history was also a factor.

Unlike in Miami, where Genting has sparked intense debate over plans to build the world’s largest casino if it can get a gambling license, the company’s new Resorts World New York City development is on a site that has accepted horse-racing bets for more than a century: the storied Aqueduct racetrack.

Perhaps even more important: New York political leaders have tried for a decade to lure slot machines to the aging track. A mixture of state financial meltdowns, a bankruptcy of the state’s horse-racing association, and a pre-Genting casino competition marred by scandal all combined to continually thwart those plans. Story here.