The Resorts World Casino overlooks the historic Aqueduct racetrack in Ozone Park and houses close to 2,500 electronic gambling machines, with more to come.
Thousands of New Yorkers waited hours on Friday morning to be part of opening day at New York City's first casino.
"It's beautiful!" said one woman as she walked into the $800 million facility, which was built in one year by the Asia-based firm The Genting Group.
An array of state and city elected officials cut a ribbon, formally opening Resorts World Casino, which overlooks the historic Aqueduct racetrack in Ozone Park and houses close to 2,500 electronic gambling machines, with more to come.
It also features a food court, with other restaurants and event rooms scheduled to be opened later this year.
On Day One, however, the big crowds came simply to play.
"I have a lot of bills to pay so I'm here to win some money, hit it big!" said Sherry Winston of Rockaway.
State and city officials hope to hit it big here, too. The casino is expected to generate $300 million in tax revenue and provide more than a thousand jobs.
"I was unemployed for three months," said casino chef David Otero. "This is the perfect opportunity for me to excel."
Community leaders from the Ozone Park neighborhood around the track are cheering the casino as well. After a decade of debate and discussion on what to do at the track, the casino has restored life to an aging and often empty property, local leaders explained.
"I know there may be problems, like traffic," said Community Board 10 official, Betty Braton. "But we will deal with them. I think, in the long run, this will be a good thing."
While the casino houses only electronic games now, its operators said, if live gambling is ever approved in New York state, the facility could be upgraded to accommodate those games.
"We're just here celebrating," said a smiling Elaine Tellstone of Woodhaven. "And donating my money to the city."