Traveling for a few days, so I'm a bit behind....but here's a good recap of the third and final day of the public comment hearings; this one for the three Southern Tier applicants, which took place in Ithaca on Wednesday. Opposition seemed scarce for the Traditions project near Binghampton (a reference to a "small grassroots group") and Tioga Downs - just one opponent out of around 20 speakers.
That Tioga speaker noted that "Everything there seems to be less," and that could be a concern for Gural. Remember, the board got him to admit under questioning that only 900 of the 1200 job number would be new positions. So Tioga surely lags in that area as compared to the other two....though Gural's political connections may very well render that moot. I don't think that Gural would have built a new parking garage if he didn't think he has this in the bag.
The Casino Free Tyre group was out in force to make their case against the Lago Resort and Casino proposed for their little town. However, Wilmorite was able to rouse 33 people to speak in support of that project....a stark difference to Capital View in East Greenbush, who didn't even try, for whatever reason to bring supporters, perhaps, as this reader suggested, because they don't have to. Still, when the location board members look back fondly on their three day marathon, I would think that the three groups who spoke out forcefully - those in East Greenbush, Tuxedo, and Tyre will stand out from the others and leave a significant impression. Unless of course the political outweighs the practical; and in the case of Tuxedo, the sheer scale of the Sterling Forest proposal dwarfs all of the other factors....both those pertaining specifically to this project, or with respect to the whole question of Orange County vs the Catskills, and what the real priorities of the casino law is as interpreted by this board.
Genting CFO Christian Goode poo-pooed the notion that Sterling Resort would significantly hurt Yonkers. He called racino customers "convenience gamblers" with a modest budget.
"When you start thinking about that, if somebody's got $60 or $80 to spend, you can easily assume today with gas prices and tolls, that you're going to take 25 percent of their spending power. We don't think that person's going to go up here," he said. [Journal News]
(That's why I think that the cannibalization of Saratoga harness may not be as bad as people are saying.) And speaking of poo-poo, that's been the attitude by Genting all along to the ruling by the Palisades Insterstate Park Commission that they can't build a new Thruway exit there.
Goode said the commission "acted prematurely," and the state Thruway Authority would control whether an exit were built. Having the exit is central to the casino project, and Genting is confident it would be built, he said.
Maybe they know something that we don't.
- A minority owner of Vernon Downs, which is also majority-owned by Gural, says that a casino in Tyre would hurt his racetrack-racino, "putting its entire existence into question."
Tyre is closer to Syracuse than either Tioga Downs or the town of Glen. Greenberg says Gural wouldn’t have supported the state approving commercial casinos last year had he known then there would be a competitor as close as Tyre. [Daily Sentinel]
Well, I think he probably would have anyway.. And it may not be as bad as he is saying, at least according to the Genting theory explained above.
- Republican Attorney General candidate John Cahill says that he will use that office's organized crime task force to vet the casino applicants should he be elected.
"These are sophisticated deals, potentially involving offshore investments, foreign players and incredible sums of money," Cahill said. "The organized crime task force has the expertise and the personnel to make sure New Yorkers are safeguarded from fraud, crime or even terrorist activities." [Albany Times Union]
As we've mentioned, we haven't seen that level of scrutiny, as there was in Massachussetts....enough to dq Caesars there because of an alleged tie to an alleged mobster. The location board is required to use the State Police to investigate, which I imagine will only take them so far. However, Cahill would take office on Jan 1 should he upset incumbent Eric Schneiderman. That might be too late. After the location board announces its recommendations, it's up to the Gaming Commission to actually award the licenses. You can bet that, should Cahill win, the governor will see to it that the job is done before New Year's Day.