The New York State Gaming Commission issued a statement on Tuesday refuting the notion that a casino in Orange County is a lock.
In a letter to Senate Racing Committee chairman John Bonacic, who represents the region, Gaming Commission acting director Robert Williams said that the law last year to authorize four casinos in upstate New York is aimed to ensure that high-need areas, particularly Sullivan County, would be given consideration for a casino.
"A perceived advantage for Orange County is inconsistent with both the statute authorizing the competition and the request for applications," Williams wrote. [Journal News]
Oh. Well, that's what we thought all along. Why however are you just telling us this now? After two potential developers in Sullivan County have already dropped out because of the activity in Orange?
"The cumulative effect of Sullivan County economic need, the RFA provisions, and the clear legislative intent, is that while there may be legitimate proposals in the southern area of Region One [Orange County-ed.], proposed projects in Sullivan County are not at any competitive disadvantage. Put another way, it is entirely within the terms of the RFA and the statue that a lower investment in Sullivan County could have a higher impact on economic need than a larger investment in the southern part of the Region. All the bidders understand this, and I believe that if Sullivan County bidders choose not to continue in the competition, there are other factors at play."Well, yes, there was another factor at play in Foxwoods' decision to withdraw from the proposed Grossinger's project. They couldn't get financing, we were told, due to just the prospect of a casino in Orange. The Nevele has expressed concern about their ability to obtain financing as well. Mr. Williams does not address that slight problem in his letter. And I don't know that this statement will do enough to solve it, as it surely does not entirely preclude the possibility that there will be a casino in the southern area of Region One.
On the other hand, it does, finally, reaffirm the original legislative intent of the law, and seems to indicate that the playing field will be, if not tilted, than certainly deferential to the needs of the counties in the Catskills region. So, one might imagine that the bidders who have spent time and money devising their plans for casinos and bucolic ponds and babbling brooks for locations in Orange County might not be too thrilled with this statement either. The Hudson Valley is specifically included in the legislation as an eligible area, so I suppose that the state is required to accept and consider their applications. However, as I pointed out in yesterday's post, when the law was passed, it was fully assumed and presumably accepted in writing by the governor's office that the two casinos for Region One would be sited in the Catskills. Somebody could have put the kibosh on the whole Orange County idea either publicly or privately when the first rumblings of a casino there emerged. Now, you have more than just a bit of a mess. It remains to be seen whether bidders and banks will be assuaged to the point at which they will proceed in the Catskills. It may already be too late for those in Sullivan County that were hoping that both casinos would be located there. And the Orange County bidders may be having second thoughts.
- Nonetheless, here's the latest website for a proposed Orange County site. This is the one from Penn National and Cordish, "two proven operators with the strongest balance sheets in the industry."
The resort would also include a destination spa, fitness center and salon, boutiques, a live entertainment center and a conference center that could accommodate up to 2,000 people. [Times Herald-Record]We always like to know what the amenities are that I'm SO SURE casino gamblers will care about. This casino would be located in South Blooming Grove, near Woodbury Commons, hardly an area with the kind of economic need as those in the Catskills.
- Genting is working on plans to build a brand new exit 15B off the New York State Thurway to serve its hoped-for casino in Tuxedo, the proposed site that is closest to New York City.
- Keeneland gets the Breeders' Cup for 2015, and reports are that it will return to Santa Anita in 2016 (because they've done SUCH a great job maintaining a fair main track for the last two) and then Del Mar in 2017. Perhaps we'll see a Breeders' Cup here in New York if NYRA installs Polytrack at Belmont and then announces they are tearing it out and replacing it with dirt.