All In: Big Gamble Now Paying Off as Rivers Casino Opens in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- With the ceremonial turn of a key, the doors were thrown open Wednesday on the most anticipated new business in recent Schenectady history. It was several hours in line for the die-hards, waiting to be the first gamblers at Rivers Casino. But this was all several years in the making -- hard work acknowledged by Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy at the grand opening event. "It was difficult at times. It really required people of great vision," McCarthy said. "Our team performed as they always do: terrifically," said Galesi Group CEO Francesco Galesi. Galesi, one of those visionaries whose company developed this project, spread the credit Wednesday to his business partners —

Rivers Casino opening brings optimism, large crowds

It’s officially game on in Schenectady. Rivers Casino & Resort opened just before noon on Wednesday on the Mohawk Harbor site to much fanfare, as thousands of guests poured into the facility for the first time. “Today is just all good news,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a pre-opening ceremony. “It really is a dream come true.” Hundreds of people lined up hours in advance to be among the first to experience the $330 million facility. Once customers stepped foot on the red carpet rolled onto the 50,000-square-foot gaming floor, they were greeted by a showgirl wearing a giant, red, feathery headdress who wished them good luck. By about 1:30 p.m., each of the 67 table games and 15 poker tables—and

Buicko family gathers for special dice toss before Rivers opening

SCHENECTADY -- Dave Buicko and his father, Frank, used to drive around the Mohawk Harbor development every Saturday morning and watch as the old industrial site slowly evolved into the home of Rivers Casino and Resort. ​ The weekly drives stopped when Frank’s health deteriorated recently. The 93-year-old has Parkinson’s Disease and had one of his legs amputated about a month ago, Dave said. ​ On Monday, surrounded by family, Frank got to see the finished product. ​ Dave rolled his father in a wheelchair up to the side of the craps table. The dealer took Frank’s bet and handed him the dice. Frank cradled them in his right hand, gave them a shake and tossed them along the felt. Read the full s

93-year-old Man First to Roll the Dice at Rivers Casino

SCHENECTADY - Even though Rivers Casino in Schenectady doesn't open until Wednesday, one man is already getting to roll the dice. The very first number rolled at the Craps table was a hard "8." The person who rolled that didn’t win a dime, but it’s okay. He was just thrilled to be there.It’s the equivalent of throwing out the first pitch opening day at a Major League Baseball game. The person honored with rolling the dice to christen the Craps table at the new Rivers Casino is 93-year-old Frank Buicko. "It’s an honor to be here with my son," he beamed. Buicko’s son, Dave Buicko, happens to be the chief operating officer of the Galesi Group that built the Rivers Casino and developed the Schen

How Mohawk Harbor went from industrial site to casino

For a generation of Schenectady residents, the 60-acre site along Erie Boulevard was nothing more than a rusting reminder of the municipality’s legacy as “The city that lights and hauls the world.” The American Locomotive Company, or Alco, manufactured railway and military equipment from 1849 until it closed in 1969. For the next 40 years, the site was repurposed for other industrial uses. “Anyone who’s 55 or younger can’t remember when Alco was open,” said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. “We thought it was very important for our economic development team that, as much as we tackled downtown, we wanted to fix the Alco site.” The plot of land where fac

Dunkin' Donuts, Capital Bank to open at Mohawk Harbor

A Dunkin' Donuts and Capital Bank will open at Schenectady’s Mohawk Harbor, becoming the latest tenants of the $480 million development project. The coffee shop and bank will be located at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Rush Street, next to the traffic circle. The businesses will occupy a 4,240-square-foot retail building that the Schenectady Planning Commission approved last July. Work on the building has already started, and is expected to be completed this summer, said Dave Buicko, CEO of the Galesi Group, the Rotterdam-based developer associated with the Mohawk Harbor project. The Capital Bank will likely open this summer, Buicko said, while the Dunkin' Donuts will open in the fall. Th

A look inside Rivers Casino as it readies for opening day

With a week until opening day, Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady is nearly ready to show its hand to the public. ​ Outside the building, workers donning green vests hammered away to put the finishing touches on the $330 million project before doors open for good next Wednesday at noon. Inside, a “mock casino” day was underway as staff members practiced their roles with each other, making final preparations for the opening day rush. ​ “I’m feeling very anxious and very excited about opening these doors and never closing them,” said Mary Cheeks, the casino’s general manager. ​ The facility features many standbys associated with casinos: bright slot machines, the sound of dice crashing at