On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Rivers Casino and Resort opened its doors to the general public. Inside the casino, guests gathered around all 67 table games. The 15-table poker room had a long waiting list and many, though not all, of the 1,150 slot machines were in use throughout the weekend.
According to the Daily Gazette, Schenectady police spokesman Sgt. Matt Dearing said the department added two officers to its patrols for the weekend, starting at midnight Saturday, to help navigate the additional traffic and ensure cars parked legally. With that, in addition to the 10 additional officers brought on for opening day, he commented, “There will probably still be a decent amount of volume there because it’s the first weekend … as the weeks progress, we expect it to tailor down to a normal level.”
College officials and city leaders have had an ongoing dialogue with casino operators in advance of the opening to ensure that any concerns the college had are considered or addressed.
The Wicker Wellness Center plans to partner with the New York Council on Problem Gambling on programming. The center has worked with the council in the past to remind students how the odds of the games are stacked against them. The center will continue to promote a gambling hotline number on its website, and create posters and digital ads reminding students of the services it offers.
Director of Media and Public Relations Phillip J. Wajda commented that Campus Safety has met with casino security to ensure that the casino will be strict on identification for age verification.
Wajda states, “Campus Safety will continue to monitor cameras already in place that offer a view of the casino and the surrounding area for increased activity.
The additional traffic generated by casino visitors is not expected to impact campus operations.” James Boggs ’18, went to the casino recently and documented a personal account of his experience: “Although the Rivers Casino and Resort opened at 11 a.m., the place was still jam-packed by the time Kim Bolduc ’17 and I arrived.
The way into the casino is barred by casino security, looking to ensure that no one under-age makes it into the gambling area. Wall-to-wall gambling covered the floor’s wall-to-wall carpeting.
Down the center was an aisle of card tables, with dealers running nearly every game from blackjack to roulette to Mississippi stud. On either side of the center aisle were countless slot machines. Although some resembled the classic image of a slot machine, most featured massive digital displays with four, five or six lines of symbols and dozens of lines along which a win could be won.
The noise of the crowd, along with the cacophonous ringing and bright flashing of the slots, gave the casino floor a frenetic and exuberant atmosphere. The presence of Johnny’s Italian Restaurant, the Mallozzi Family restaurant and even Villa Italia meant that no one who was craving Italian would go unsatisfied.
Finally, Van Slyck’s bar and lounge allows anyone to go from the glitzy gambling atmosphere into a more low-key bar area without ever leaving the building.”
The developer and operator of the $300 million casino is Rush Street Gaming. Headquartered in Chicago, Rush Street Gaming has developed and currently operates three highly successful, award-winning casinos in Des Plaines, Ill., Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Penn.
“Campus Safety has been in touch with counterparts at other schools who are in close proximity to identify any issues that might occur. In general, other schools have not seen any significant problems. Campus Safety has met with casino security, which indicated that the casino will be extremely strict on identification for age verification,” said Wajda.
“Campus Safety will continue to monitor cameras already in place that offer a view of the casino and the surrounding area for increased activity. The additional traffic generated by casino visitors is not expected to impact campus operations,” continued Wajda.
Wajda also shared that the College remains supportive of Schenectady’s ongoing revitalization efforts: “We will continue to work with city leaders and others to ensure that those efforts dovetail with our responsibility to the campus community.”