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The newest casino in New York, a $1.2 billion project in the Catskills, opened its doors Thursday. 

Resorts World Casino & Resort is the fourth state-approved casino to open since December 2016. There are three other commercial, non-Indian casinos in New York: del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, Seneca County; Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady; and Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols, Tioga County. 

The project was spearheaded by Empire Resorts, which also operates Monticello Casino & Raceway in Sullivan County. 

"Today marks an exciting new era for us," said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of Empire Resorts. 

The casino's 100,000-square-foot gaming floor has 2,151 slot machines, 150 table games and a poker room. There is 27,000 square feet of entertainment and meeting space at the venue. 

There are a handful of dining options for customers. Cellaio, a restaurant operated by celebrity chef Scott Conant, will offer an Italian-style steakhouse menu. Two Asian restaurants are located within the casino: Good Friends Market, which will offer Asian "grab-and-go" cuisine, and Lotus, a more upscale restaurant. 

Bar 360, Empire Lounge and The Doubletop Bar and Grill round out the casino's restaurant lineup. 

Resorts World Catskills has a hotel with 336 all-suite rooms. Another hotel with 324 rooms, an indoor water park and spa will open next year. A renovated golf course will be part of the final project.

The casino has 1,500 employees and will add 600 more when the entertainment venue, golf course and water park open next year. 

"Resorts World Casino will be a destination with a variety of gaming, entertainment and dining options for tourists near and far that will boost the region and the entire state," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who attended the grand opening ceremony Thursday. 

Resorts World opens as there are questions about the long-term viability of the non-Indian casinos in New York. Del Lago, which opened in the Finger Lakes region last year, fell $100 million short of its revenue projections. Rivers and Tioga Downs also didn't meet revenue projections outlined in their gaming license applications. 

But officials are optimistic about the fate of Resorts World. State Sen. John Bonacic, who represents the Catskills, called the opening of the casino "an exciting new chapter" for the region. 

"Resorts World Catskills' casino resort campus is a true destination that will deliver untold opportunities for the Catskills and we're incredibly optimistic for its future," he said. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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