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Keeping a Promise

TimesLedger Newspapers

When Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park was seeking public support to open the first casino in New York City, it promised locals would get 70 percent of the 850 jobs that would be created. With unemployment in this part of Queens at more than 10 percent, it sounded like a good bet.

After last month’s reports, critics say the facility hired 60 percent of its staff from Queens. The casino responded that the number of jobs going to Queens residents has increased.

We have concerns about the state’s growing dependency on revenues from gambling, but at a time when more jobs are leaving Queens, 60 percent of 850, or more than 500 jobs, is nothing to sneeze at.

In fact, an executive at Resorts World said the total number of employees has increased to 1,750 after the facility added food and beverage outlets. He said there are more than 1,100 borough residents working at the casino, about 63 percent of the total.

These are, if you believe the casino, jobs with a future. Officials at Resorts World said recently that the casino promoted 134 employees within the first 10 months of operation, while accommodating hundreds of others with transfers to other departments.

“These latest promotion numbers reflect the opportunity our facility has provided for employees to launch successful careers,” said Michael Speller, president of the casino.

Speller could be dealing from the bottom of the deck, but there is no denying his casino has created decent jobs and generated economic activity.

It makes sense for the community to keep a close eye on Resorts World, but we hope it will continue to create jobs in an area that needs help.

Mixed Message

In a poignant letter to the editor, Jennifer Levy, a health educator, criticizes stores for putting cigarettes at the eye level of young children.

“We have many laws protecting children’s health, such as child safety seats and bicycle helmets,” she wrote, “but why is there no discussion of a ban on tobacco advertising that is aimed at youth?”

To that we repeat our complaint that most major Queens pharmacies sell cigarettes at the front register, often next to drugs designed to help people quit smoking.

Talk about a mixed message.

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