Ryan Eller, President, Resorts World New York; Senior Vice President of Development, Genting America
The name Genting may not ring a bell for most Americans, but that’s all changing with the success of the Malaysian firm’s gaming projects in New York and Las Vegas.
Since opening in October 2011, Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Race Track has become the most successful slot hall in the United States, with 5,550 video gaming machines that draw 10 million visitors a year. The racino’s tax rate—the highest in the nation at 70 percent—has also made it a very generous community partner; in five years of operations, Resorts World has contributed $1.6 billion to the state education fund.
Based on that track record, Resorts World will add 750,000 square feet and 1,000 gaming terminals to the property. At the reins is Ryan Eller, the former Resorts World CFO who became president in 2014. With more than 10 years of experience in commercial and tribal gaming, the former Marine is also overseeing the development of Resorts World Las Vegas.
The scope of the New York investment—up to $500 million—is justified by the numbers, says Eller. “This year we expect revenues approaching $870 million of gross gaming win—it’s really unparalleled in the country.”
The project is also a hedge against future competition. New York City’s only casino dodged a bullet when New Jersey voters vetoed a plan to bring mammoth gaming halls to the northern part of the state, “on the doorstep of Manhattan,” Eller says. “The investment we’re contemplating is not only a way to protect our current asset, base and position; it’s intended to better position us to ultimately be a fully integrated resort in the future.”
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Eller spent eight years in the Marine Corps before heading to Harvard Business School. On the advice of a fellow veteran, he joined Caesars Entertainment as part of its President’s Associate program. Surprisingly, he says the two occupations—military and gaming—have a lot in common.
“Both are people businesses,” he says. “We have more than 1,000 employees at Resorts World who have thousands of interactions with customers every day. In the military, though one person is accountable, everyone works toward a common goal. And if they believe in that goal, they are ultimately capable of extraordinary things.”
As senior vice president of development for Genting Americas, Eller is also deeply involved in development of the 3,000-room Las Vegas property, which will be the first new integrated resort to open on the Strip since before the recession.
“We have a comprehensive, appropriately scaled and designed project that will transform the market,” says Eller. “The cranes are going up, and you’ll see an extraordinary level of construction in the first quarter of next year. It’s like moving a gigantic ship, and I’m frankly happy to be able to steer that ship.” The resort is projected to open in late 2018 or early 2019.
But New York is Eller’s primary focus, and the benchmark for Genting’s performance in Nevada.
“It’s our anchor in the Americas, our bellwether of success,” he says. “My focus is here, to try to ensure we grow on the success we’ve built as Genting’s first foray in the Americas.” —Marjorie Preston
Excerpt from Global Gaming Business Magazine