Monticello, N.Y.-based Resorts World Catskills recently opened to the public, offering regional players a Las Vegas-style gaming experience featuring a casino with 2,150 slots, 150 table games as well as a dizzying array of entertainment and lodging offerings. Future plans for the $1.2 billion project include an entertainment village, indoor waterpark lodge and an 18-hole golf course.
Integral to the first phase success of Resorts World Catskills will be its large and eclectic mix of table games offerings, which property executives hope will attract both domestic and international patronage. Jack Kennedy, executive director of table games for Resorts World Catskills, recently took some time to speak with Casino Journal Editor Paul Doocey about the facility’s table games strategy. Below are some excerpts from this conversation:
Please describe the current table games mix at Resorts World Catskills…
KENNEDY: We have a three tier table games mix. The first two tiers consist of a mass table gaming area for both domestic and Asian customers and a high-limit rooms for our high-value blackjack and roulette players. The third tier will be our third-floor VIP area, which we believe will be the jewel in the crown of our table games offerings. This area will consist of high-limit rooms adjacent to villa and garden suites, pool deck, restaurants, private gaming rooms and a mass VIP gaming floor. That is getting ready to launch and I am very excited about it.
Why did Resorts World Catskills decide to open with 150 live table games? That seems to be quite a lot…
KENNEDY: From my past table game management experiences on the East Coast, I felt the need for this many games to handle the initial surge of table game patrons. Eventually, some of these offerings will be pushed up to the third-floor VIP area for utilization in the private gaming salons. That was the strategy behind opening with 154 table games… 135 banked table games and 19 poker tables.
Was it difficult to find and train dealers and other support staff for such a large table games pit? How did Resorts World Catskills overcome this challenge?
KENNEDY: This has always been a challenge no matter where a casino opens. If someone wants to be a dealer, we offer a free dealer school. Our dealer schools have generated around 250 dealers. We also recruited another 125 experienced dealers, which was good. That still puts us a little below what we were looking for, so we continue to run classes, job fairs and work our due processes to seek out more experienced dealers.
How are you differentiating Resorts World Catskills table games pit from competing regional gaming properties?
KENNEDY: My philosophy is if you are a player you will play all games. So we do have an Asian area and a domestic offerings area. What sets us apart is that we attempt to integrate both these areas by adding Asian signage to games in the domestic area and English signage to games in the Asian area. I found that this particular strategy provides a cross over for both segments of our mass table games business, which works out very well.
How is the table games area at Resorts World Catskills being marketed?
KENNEDY: The marketing department has a nice strategy going…featuring our proximity to New York City. We are hitting all the boroughs in the city as well as northern New Jersey. I also think we have a great opportunity in the Hudson Valley.
Is Resorts World Catskills taking any special steps to attract Asian table game players?
KENNEDY: We added the Asian gaming area but we did not enclose it or put it off to the side like most casinos do. We have integrated it into the flow of the floor and surrounded it with some nice high-end amenities, such as a beautiful noodle bar called Good Friends which emulates a street food scene. We also changed the music to some Hong Kong standards, a little Asian Pop-type of stuff. All this makes the area feel comfortable, like you are in Asia, which is nice.
I understand Resorts World Catskills offers a variety of high-limit slot and table gaming opportunities. Could you please describe them?
KENNEDY: Our third-floor high limit area offers a great experience. You go up a VIP elevator, are greeted by a host or hostess who will take you to your table or to the Mass VIP table area which will have 19 games on it. If you are a high-value player, there are luxury gaming suites, each with a bathroom, pantry and outside balcony. All these suites will also have a butler. The suites are oriented in a way that they directly access penthouse rooms or you can walk across the pool deck to a villa or walk through a garden to the garden suites. All these suite rooms are large and very luxurious. It is a well thought out and designed upscale area.
Please describe your recently opened poker room. What role does the poker room play in your facility’s overall table games strategy? What niche does it fill?
KENNEDY: The poker room was actually an afterthought on our original plan. We had planned a much smaller room… but we identified a larger space on the second floor near the convention center. It was a nice 6,000-square-foot space that we identified as a great revenue opportunity for an upscale poker room. The room came out perfect… it has its own bathrooms, cocktail service, food offerings, cage, etc. Your experience as a poker player… you can pull into the valet, check your coat, walk to the escalator and get to a seat within three minutes. In my experience, I have found poker players enjoy getting quickly to their seat to play.
We took a space that probably would not have been the greatest revenue producer, expanded it, made it nice and we have gotten good results from it.
Does the Resorts World Catskills table games area include any electronic tables games (ETGs)? Why/why not?
KENNEDY: As an operator, I like electronic table games; I think they grab a market segment that is normally missed, like the $5 bettor on Saturday night where no table games have such a low limit. They also offer minimal staffing for multiple games, which makes it very cost efficient for the casino.
Unfortunately, with our present tax rate in New York, it is really not feasible for us to entertain ETGs at this time.