As Casino Opens Its Doors, Pent-Up Demand Is Released

Kim Franklin had been waiting for Resorts World casino to open since arriving at 9:15 a.m. on Friday — or, to put it another way, since she first heard about the possibility of a casino coming to the city eight years ago.

Shortly after 1 p.m., when the doors of New York City’s first casino, next to Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, opened to the public, Ms. Franklin, 45, brushed past a security guard, extended both arms to ensure that no one behind her in line could pass and broke into a jog as she approached the casino escalators.

“Oh, my God,” she said as the flashing lights of video slot machines came into view. “I don’t even know where to go.”

About an hour after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that began with casino executives and elected officials touting the economic benefits of the site and ended with the release of 100 doves and a trumpet rendition of the “Rocky” theme, crowds that had braved the morning chill were finally allowed inside.

“I watched the building go up,” said Philip Ramphal, who arrived at the casino at 6 a.m from his home on Liberty Avenue, not far away. Mr. Ramphal was not a gambler, he said, but wanted to see the facility that he believed would “break or make” the community in the coming years.

Ms. Franklin, who took a taxi on Friday from East New York, Brooklyn, said she viewed the opening as a celebration. Before she could find a machine to play, Ms. Franklin received a phone call from a friend, seeking an early review.

“Girl, I am in the casino,” Ms. Franklin said, raising her voice with each word. “I was the first one in the building.” Within minutes, Ms. Franklin was celebrating a $4 profit at a pirate-themed penny slot machine and contemplating her first drink order.

Meanwhile, near the main entrance, impersonators of Lady Gaga, Tina Turner and Elvis Presley greeted visitors with photogenic grins and canned one-liners. (“You are simply the best,” Ms. Turner’s imitator told passers-by on a loop.)

Richie Santa, 54, the man dressed as Elvis, said the opening struck a familiar chord. “It felt like Vegas,” he said, before returning to thrust the air and pose with casino guests. “I’ll definitely be back, without the costume.”

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