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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Compact Casino

Governor Paterson formally announced the compact with the Wisconsin-based Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, which will give up its claim on 23,000 acres in exchange for a 300-acre parcel in Sullivan County on which it plans to build a casino.

Tribe officials said once the casino and resort is built in Sullivan County, it would be the largest employer in the county, creating an estimated 4,600 jobs. It has an estimated economic impact of $715 million annually.

The construction of the casino is expected to create about 8,100 jobs. [Ithaca Journal]
Additionally, in an attempt to appease the nearby, and imperiled, Monticello racetrack and racino, he pledged $100 million to "help them with their expansion.”
He did not elaborate; the state is facing a $9 billion deficit, so it remains uncertain how – financially and politically – the state could provide funds to Monticello. []
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo said that the current governor is "on firm legal ground in what he's doing."
"We don't anticipate any legal challenges." [Daily Politics]
I think that the governor-elect may be the only person in the state who actually believes that (if he really does). The Oneida Nation, which has competing land claims with the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, promised to "be seriously involved in opposing this deal at all levels."

And environmental groups are certain to file suit. One of those is the National Resources Defense Council. I quoted that group's New York director yesterday saying that the project faced long odds. His opinion on the topic is obvious, but still, his more detailed explanation of the hurdles that the plan faces is interesting reading and worth stealing reproducing here.
First, the casino still requires a full environmental review under federal law to assess the heavy traffic, air and water pollution, as well as the destruction of the beautiful landscape, that this proposal would bring. Second, the federal Interior Department would have to agree to take the land into “federal trust” and approve gambling at this Catskills site – even though it rejected essentially the same proposal at the same Neversink River site three years ago, and there’s no indication that the Interior Department has changed its position. And third, because the deal settles outstanding land claims against New York State, it would need to get separate approval by Congress, federal officials and the New York State Legislature – hardly an easy task. [Switchboard - NRDC staff blog]
Genting continues to be apoplectic about the plan.
"We are extremely concerned about the massive loss in VLT [video lottery terminal] revenue to the state that would result from the proposed Stockbridge-Munsee project, and its negative effect on our ability to further invest to create more jobs," said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Genting's Resorts World. [NY Post]
I do wonder however if Genting's worry really is Aqueduct as much as Monticello, in which it holds a major share. They're not going to get nearly as much leverage complaining about that track as they would about their highly-publicized and long-awaited racino at the Big A. Tom Precious reported in his piece:
State officials insisted there is plenty of room for competition between the planned Catskills facility and New York racetrack-based casinos.
And, considering the resilience of slots-only business at Yonkers amidst recession and competition from already-existing full-blown casinos not all that much further away than Sullivan County, do you think that may be true?


DiscreetPicks said...

I wonder how Linda Rice feels about all this...

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of points:

I believe the Stockbridge went through an EIS in connection with their ill-fated 2007 proposal. A full EIS is far from a likely requirement. An update is likely the only item to be required, presuming material changes to the region have since occurred.

Yes, Interior rejected the 2007 proposal at the same site. The real difference is the land-claim settlement aspect of the new proposal. It changes everything, including commutability.

NRDC is, if you pardon the pun, blowing smoke. While the federal government have to sign on to the settlement concept, from what I read Congress and the New York State Legislature can be bypassed. The settlement would be approved judicially and the State doesn't seem to be expending any assets - not sure where the Legislature could prevent such let alone be required to approve it.

Genting is peeved about the 'massive loss in VLT revenue' now, but they didn't seem too concerned with such a massive loss when they had a Mohawk proposal at their racetrack in Monticello. Two things changed: they lost the Mohawk and now they are at Aqueduct. Somewhat hypocritical, I think.

Far from a done deal, but not as remote as interested third parties would lead the press to believe.

Figless said...

Casino in sullivan county will have zero impact on Big A, in fact AC is easier to get to for most of Gentings targeted customer base than upstate NY.

I would expect the NYT Horsemen to oppose any expansion of gambling in the State, they should put their self interests first, but Genting has no real complaint the more I consider.

If they were so concerned about competition they should have insisted on restrictions BEFORE they signed the deal.

Anonymous said...

It's surreal: a Kenyan descendant in the White House, a blind Black man as NY Governor, taking a bid from Wisconsin Indians over local tribes for a lucrative casino in the Catskills that might hurt the Malaysian owners of Aqueduct racecourse. Chaos Theory.

Anonymous said...

Genting came into the last round of bids knowing that Indian casinos were a hot topic in NY. In fact, the question was put to the Lottery Commission in writing, twice by potential vendors concerning vendor protection and implications on the VLT's at Aqueduct if (one or more casinos on Native American reservations were approved) and both times the vendors were told to "assume the business risk" if they so desired. Genting was so very proud of its "clean" and only qualified submission, so now the risk is playing out.

There may be some smoke and mirrors here as well as Governor Paterson did say he would now look to assist Monticello in it's $100 million expansion plans. Maybe the controlling interests at Monticello, (essentially Genting) will get the chance to belly up with another Indian tribe and build the 2nd of three casisnos legislated for the Catskills? The trouble with this scenario then becomes, what happens at the Big A?

Seems there is the potential for more drama coming.

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