Officials finally broke ground Thursday on the long-planned and long-delayed casino at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens.
To celebrate the occasion, hundreds of South Ozone Park residents, labor union members, horsemen and community leaders, including Governor David Paterson, joined the head of Genting New York for a ceremonial groundbreaking for Resort World New York.
Plans call for 4,500 video slot machines, a food court, on-stage entertainment and an outdoor event space.
The first 1,600 video lottery terminals are slated to be open by May, and the entire project should be finished in 18 months.
The casino is expected to generate a million dollars a day in revenue for the state, with the project creating 1,300 union jobs and 800 permanent jobs.
"It to a tremendous amount of work from a lot of people to get to this point," said Genting Malaysia Chairman K.T. Lim. "It will mean jobs for this community. It means revenue for this state and the city. It means more tourism, more economic activity."
The groundbreaking follows years of delays, mostly due to political infighting, and a botched bidding process. That bidding process was the subject of a scathing report from the state's inspector general last week that said lawmakers showed favoritism to AEG because of its political connections and contributions.
"I want all of you who were so patient during this process, one that was riddled with obstacles and obscurity to know that in the end, we made the right choice and we are bringing the aqueduct [video lottery terminal] project home," Paterson said.
"The IG report is an ongoing investigation. I'm going to let the U.S. Attorney General do its job. I'm going to let the Manhattan DA do his job and and I'm going to do my job for the sake of my people," said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.
Not everyone is pleased about the ceremony; vendors from one of the city's largest flea markets rallied against the project. Vendors say there is no plan to relocate the flea market, which currently operates out of the racetrack's parking lot.
Genting officials say they will be allowed to operate until Christmas, and then they will reevaluate.