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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meadowlands Plan Takes Shape

The Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce outlined its plan for a casino (or casinos) at the Meadowlands, though I don't really understand what they really have to do with anything here, since they don't have any money.

"Who’s going to pay for it?" the chamber president, Jim Kirkos, said. "We’re going to ask people to step up to the table and come up with ideas." [Star Ledger]
Well, I suppose they can round up some interest.  These guys are talking about up to four different themed gambling areas, two 1,000-room hotels and a convention center. [WSJ]  One of those gambling areas would be at the track; a racino-type facility with slots.  That would presumably be operated by Jeff Gural.
"We believe the best solution would be to put a casino at the Meadowlands, and to try to work with Atlantic City to try to utilize the revenue that we would pay to help them recover," Gural said. "We’re really not trying to be a destination resort. Our goal is to try to recapture the business that’s leaving New Jersey and going to Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) or Yonkers (New York)."
There's that familiar theme again, the "capture gambling money that is going out-of-state" argument.  That's gotta be on the verge of becoming obsolete, isn't it?  What is going to be the argument then, once the region is totally overrun with casinos? That we have to recapture gambling money that's going to the Upper East Side?

Here's a guy who totally gets it:
Steven Perskie, a former state legislator who wrote New Jersey's casino gambling law in the 1970s, said in a recent interview with that opening a casino in the Meadowlands would only light a fire under New York to get their operations running, creating even more competition for Atlantic City.

"The notion that you could build a major facility in Jersey City and then have New York say, 'OK, we’re going to allow everybody to go across the river and make money in New Jersey' is insane," he said. [Star Ledger]
As I've said, I can't imagine it would be too long before Albany would respond and rescind the seven-year moratorium on casinos downstate.  And it's the four upstate casinos - the ones hoping to draw, with its lavish resort facilities, customers from the city - that will suffer the most.  Ironically, should a casino be sited in Orange County, widely presumed (and feared) to benefit from its proximity to NYC, it could very well be the one to suffer the most from a casino at Yonkers (where I'm assuming that a casino license will be ultimately sited - maybe sooner than later).

As for Yonkers, its GM Bob Galterio said in this interview on FIOS One News - FIOS News?? - that about 15% of its customers come from New Jersey.  (And notice how he's got his eye on the clock, noting that now it's only six years before a casino could open downstate.)  They would definitely stand to lose much of that business to a Meadowlands facility, but presumably they would gain some business by expanding to a full-scale casino.  Resorts World probably has less customers from NJ, and seems to have some geographical protection out in Queens, unless someone builds a casino on Long Island.  Any way you cut it though....even as the industry starts to acknowledge the potential over-saturation in the Northeast, it continues to hurdle towards exactly that. It's just crazy, man.

 - The pro-casino majority on the Town Board in East Greenbush held sway, despite a defection and a recusal, and voted 3-1 on Wednesday night to forward, to the town's Planning Board and Zoning Board, a request to make the zoning changes necessary for a casino to be built in an area now designated as residential.  Despite the fact that Saratoga Casino and Raceway (let's start calling them by their proper name, though it will always be Saratoga harness to me) and Churchill Downs sent an email urging supporters to attend the board meeting, speakers opposing the casino outnumbered supporters 21-5; that according to the Twitter account of the anti-casino Save East Greenbush group.  [The Times Union actually only counted four.] After that kind of display of overwhelming and passionate sentiment on one side, the board went ahead and supported the other side anyway.  The opponents must feel as if they're beating their heads against the wall.

Jimmy Feathers himself was there, in a nice car, no doubt to keep a watchful eye over the proceedings.  We can only guess as to what kind of pressure/inducements/encouragement/urging/sweet talking/proselytizing/pleading/indoctrinating/insisting/persisting/persuading/proposing/cajoling/exaggerating/overestimating/brown-nosing/ball-busting/arm-twisting/butt-kissing/hand-shaking/eye-winking is taking place as part of the effort of Feathers and his hired help to keep those people on the Board on board.  (Remember, lobbyists are not required to disclose their activities in communities with populations less than 50,000.)


Anonymous said...

NeI have been reading your blog for quite some time and find it to be accurate and informative. Thank you for keeping us (SaveEastGreenbush) apprised on the latest developments in the Casino industry.

Bonnie said...

I really appreciate the many adjectives describing how the process really is, when doing business with casino developers. Seems like business as usual in East Greenbush. Saratoga is using EG to make up for future revenue losses if picked by the Gaming Comission. If Rensselaer or another site is picked, the Sarstoga Racino would take a big hit from Capitol District gamblers. I'm a resident of East Greenbush and it appears we are pawns to be played by our town Boad and the developers. Everything is wrong about the casino process in EG. The big boys play hard. Please continue to be another voice that will speak out against the injustices we are enduring, thanks to the likes of Cuomo and others.

Anonymous said...

The behind-the-scenes dealings that have created -- and continue to fuel -- the East Greenbush casino debacle are mind-boggling/disgusting/infuriating/outrageous/abhorrent/never-ending/just plain WRONG!!