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By Fred Stabbert III
After decades of promises and lost hope, Sullivan County is finally getting a casino.
A dream that started in the late 1970s will officially become a reality in less than six months. Empire Resorts Executive Vice President Charlie Degliomini can feel the excitement.
“I have an app on my phone that tells me exactly how long until the casino opens,” Charlie said. “It’s now 168 days, 14 hours and 14 minutes.”That was last Wednesday.
“It’s not prospective any more. After years of talking about it we are finally counting down the days until it is going to happen,” he said.
The 18-story hotel which accompanies the Resorts World Catskills casino is the tallest building in the Sullivan-OrangeUlster region.
With its own exit off of Route 17/I-86 near Monticello, the building can be viewed from miles down the road as you approach Monticello.
“Over 800 union construction workers are on site right now focused on completing the project,” Charlie said. “It’s a lot of hard work and we have a fantastic team.” Leading that team is the new Empire Resorts President and CEO, Ryan Eller.
Eller’s background in leadership and casino gaming brings a wealth of experience to the table and Charlie said he is the right person for the job.
“He’s a fantastic leader,” he said. “He understands how to open a casino.”
Before joining Empire, Eller served as senior vice president of development of Genting Americas, Inc., where he oversaw the design and development of the Resorts World Las Vegas integrated resort, a $4 billion project on the Las Vegas Strip.
He also has extensive experience in the design, development, and operation of many casinos and video gaming machine facilities, including the Monticello Casino & Raceway.
Progress on all fronts
“We have drywalls going in and hotel rooms being finished,” Charlie said. “The inside of the building is really taking shape.”
He said elevators will be installed shortly and a massive, reflective ceiling is being constructed.
“It’s a true architectural feature,” he said. “Everybody is going to come in [to the casino] and say ‘wow.’ They will not be underwhelmed.”
The $1.4 billion building project aims to impress.
Built to a 5 Diamond standard, Resorts World Catskills casino will not only need an impressive physical structure but also plenty of talented help. “We’ll have well over 1,500 employees just at the casino,” Charlie said. “We will be posting all the positions in October.”
“We will be hiring managers,” Charlie said.
He said Indeed.com and Casinocareers.com are two of the websites they will be using. “We will be hiring 600 dealers,” he said. “They are all good paying jobs with a benefits package.
“It’s a skill that can be taught but it does require training of between 80-120 hours,” he said. “Up to 200 hours for the more complicated games.
“And once you pass the audition you are hired as a table game dealer.”
Empire Resorts recently opened dealer schools at the ShopRite Plaza in Monticello and Stewart Airport in Newburgh (Orange County).
“We will be opening up another one in Ellenville on September 18,” Charlie said.
He said a wide array of professionals will be needed to run the “small city” of Resorts World Catskills.
“We are a very data driven business,” he said. “We will need all kinds of help – from marketing to accounting to bookkeeping to surveillance.”
“This is going to be a very historic time for Sullivan County,” he said.