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Friday, November 21, 2014

Casino Selections Hurdle Towards New Year

We're told that the Gaming Facility Location Board is "closing in" on their decision on where, and to whom, to recommend the issuance of up to four casino licenses; but it won't come at Friday's closed door meeting.  "We expect to be able to make a decision at our next meeting,” Kevin Law wrote to Gaming Commission Mark Gearan.  But we don't yet know exactly when that meeting will be....mid-December is the target.  However, once you get to that time of year, the holidays loom and people have the tendency to put things off until the new year.  I would not at all be shocked if that happens here.

The longer this thing goes on, the more it veers off the ambitious timetable that had been set by Governor Cuomo, who had one time actually envisioned casino money starting to flow by the early months of 2015.  And the more it veers off course, the more I start to believe that maybe.....just possibly.....the outcome will not be what I've always believed to be one that was pre-ordained in the days/weeks leading up to the casino referendum vote.  That was when the New York Gaming Association flipped its stance and agreed to not oppose the referendum after flipping its stance to one of opposition.  The thinking here all along has been that then-NYGA president James Featherstonhaugh, along with Jeff Gural and, perhaps, Genting (who has had a complicated history with the governor, but who surely had the money and the means to influence the vote's outcome) would have the inside track via a closed-door deal with the governor.  That may still indeed end up being the case.  But if it does, these guys are sure doing a convincing job of going through the motions!

Tom Noonan was nice enough to drop by last week and point out that with a grand jury looking into allegations that Cuomo interfered with the investigations of the Moreland Commission, the governor and his staff would have to be a clueless and arrogant fool to interfere with a competitive procurement.  Especially considering the scandal over the selection of the Aqueduct racino.  That's surely a very fair point. However, one might have thought that, with US Attorney Preet Bharara squarely focused on the matter, Cuomo would have had to have been a clueless and arrogant fool to tamper with that investigation by orchestrating a coordinated response by Moreland participants willing to say that there was no interference.  Maybe Bharara's furious reaction to that action gave the governor pause about his meddling behavior.  Still, these casinos are his baby, and it's extremely difficult to believe that he's not actively monitoring the deliberations.  And that his preferences have or will not be expressed to a board which includes people with whom he has worked closely in the past.

But in any event, and no matter what Cuomo is or is not doing, the longer this thing drags on, you gotta believe that Gural and Feathers are shitting their pants.  Surely they must have felt, at the very least, entitled to a license when this process started.  But now, it all seems to be up for grabs....seemingly at least. And both of them have some serious issues with their bids.  For Gural, it's the fact that his revenue and employment projections are incremental to what his Tioga Downs racino is producing now; it's the only existing racino bidding to expand into a casino.  That was the point of the ad attacking the Tioga bid that Lago ran, even if it didn't have the facts straight.  You may recall at the oral presentation, Gural was called out on his projection of 1200 jobs, and sheepishly admitted that only 900 of those positions would be new ("we're allowed to present it like that").

As for Feathers, he picked up his stake in Saratoga, a place where there was some staunch opposition to expanding his existing racino, and landed in the middle of a residential area in East Greenbush, where the opposition is stauncher still.  In my opinion, an award to his Capital View casino there would belie any claim that the process is legitimate.  And his Newburgh bid relies on a notion that it would "complement and not compete" with a Catskills casino which, as I pointed out in this post, is a bunch of unadulterated hogwash.  I would hope that the location board members took that same drive that I did up towards the Catskills to visit each of the sites (don't know if they've actually done so, as they certainly should have by now); then they would have seen the arrogant lie behind the Newburgh narrative for themselves.

2 Comments:

Bonnie L. said...

Thanks Alan for accurately portraying the opposition SaveEastGreenbush, in my hometown of East Greenbush. We have two lawsuits in the courts against our Town Board and Zoning Board. The Town Board has violated our trust and the Zoning Board has violated our Zoning Laws. Feathers has created a nasty mess in our town. The whole process is shameful. The casino developers are getting desperate in their attempts to take over our community. Alan, we should never have been on any casino map, never. Where they want to put it is all wrong, and they continue to lie about citizen support. We the citizens of East Greenbush which largely make up a group SaveEastGreenbush are resolute in not allowing a casino in our town. The latest rediculous act of Capitol View is to give $150,000.00 to an Albany Boy's Club, with the stipulation that that can actually keep it, if they are picked. Check out the Times Union Story. Nothing sacred about these casino developers. Nothing! Alan, we will continue the opposition until the casino developers go away. No Casino! No Way! Not Now! Not Ever!

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