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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Odds May Be Against Genting's Orange County Casino

Here's an interesting article from a local paper on Genting's efforts to construct a casino in Tuxedo, which, as we've noted, is a bit more than 40 miles from the Empire State Building.  As the town works towards finalizing an acceptable Host Agreement, it seems as if Genting has a long way to go in order to obtain all of the local approvals that it needs.  (In fact, I believe it's the case that none of the Orange County bidders have finalized that part of the process as of yet.)  One key issue is the construction of a dedicated exit (15B) off the New York Thruway to facilitate traffic flow to the facility. 

Part of Genting’s proposal involves contributing some $25 million dollars toward completing the NY Thruway Exit 15B just north of Tuxedo that would help funnel traffic to the resort.

The construction of Exit 15B may involve the acquisition of state park land, which would make that portion of the project extremely difficult as it would necessitate approval by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. Town Councilman Gary Phelps expressed at a recent town meeting that if the Rt. 15B exit doesn’t happen, the overall project doesn’t happen. [Sloatsburg Village]
There's a potential deal breaker right there.  Sentiment towards the idea seems to be mixed, at very best.  The article reports that 180 out of 262 emails received in response to a request for public comment were against the idea.  And the list of organizations opposed to it includes the kind of names that riles those on the side of the political spectrum that gets irked by those damn "tree-huggers." 
Regional groups who are mounting opposition to the development include NY/NJ Trail Conference, the Highlands Coalition, Sterling Forest Partnership, and the Appalachian Mountain Club, according to Geoff Welch of the Sterling Forest Partnership.
A transcript of a public meeting held on June 9 shows a contentious debate with a healthy dose of skepticism towards Genting.  It's particularly interesting though to read what exactly concerns those who spoke up at the meeting.  While a couple of people mentioned crime, there seems to be more concern about a potential decline in property values.  And instead of talking about the number jobs that could be created (in fact, the words 'jobs' and 'employment' do not appear a single time in the entire discussion), one woman "worries about the need for lower income housing to house the custodians, chambermaids and dishwashers at the casino." 
She wonders where such housing will be available and fears that single family housing might be turned into multi-family housing.
Well, this hardly sounds like comments from a community that desperately needs a casino (or at least thinks it does) because it is in dire financial straits, such as those prospective sites in Sullivan County and other areas in the Catskills.  So, if you take at face value the letter by the Gaming Commission's Robert Williams the other day, in which he affirmed that the intent of the law is to "provide maximum benefit to the State through bringing economic benefit to municipalities that have been economically disadvantaged," and to "create jobs, reduce unemployment in disadvantaged areas of the State," then Genting's proposed casino surely doesn't seem to fit the bill.

Besides and as we've said, a casino in Tuxedo would sit less than 40 miles away from the racino at Yonkers, and I just don't see the state putting that facility, part of the NYGA with whom the governor no doubt negotiated back room deals in order to gain their support for the referendum, at that kind of competitive disadvantage.  (Yes, Genting is a member of NYGA too, but they already have their jackpot at the Big A and would not be hurt by this project being rejected.)  So, while Genting may very well have successfully run some interference for its related Empire entity and its proposal for the Concord by contributing to a couple of Catskills bidders dropping out, I just don't see their Sterling Forest Resort coming to pass.


chiefdave said...

One thing in their favor - less than 10 miles to the NJ suburbs.

jk said...

Regulators making pronouncements after a few bidders drop out means the certain entities are being favored by the Albany insiders. Stay tuned to see who these entities might be.