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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Expected Reactions in an Unexpected Place

The language in the reactions we heard last week regarding the selection of the Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre was the kind that we thought we might be hearing from aggrieved casino supporters in the Catskills had licenses been issued to Orange County applicants instead.

"Something's wrong," Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said. "It's a slap in the face to the people of Broome County and the people of the Southern Tier." [PressConnects]
.......
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, called the news "a punch in the gut to the Southern Tier." [Syracuse.com]
.......
"To not pick a Southern Tier location — Seneca County, in all due respect, is not in the Southern Tier," [Sen. Tom] Libous said. "I'm extremely upset. I'm very, very disappointed." [PressConnects]
.......
A day after the casino vote last year, Cuomo showed up in Binghamton and applauded the addition of new licenses as he stood in front of a podium with a sign that read: "Funding for Schools ... Jobs for the Southern Tier." [PressConnects Editorial]
Well, no casino jobs for the Southern Tier; at least what those living in that part of the state would consider to be the Southern Tier.  As in....the actual southern tier.  The above-referred-to editorial continues:
As Cuomo said at the time: "We're losing over a billion dollars to the neighboring casinos — New Jersey has casinos, Pennsylvania has casinos, Connecticut has casinos." 
Cuomo was right.

If a Binghamton resident decides to go to a full-service casino, that gambler likely drives 76 miles south in Pennsylvania to the Mohegan Sun casino in Wilkes-Barre. After all, Turning Stone Resort and Casino is 87 miles north. Others in New York are even farther away.
Of course, not everybody up in the Finger Lakes region is thrilled about the decision either....especially those in Tyre who have been trying to block the construction of a casino there.  The CasinoFreeTyre group, unsuccessful thus far with their legal actions, will try again; this time, asserting that the developers' plans grew larger between the time that they were, controversially, approved by the Town Board, and the time that they were formally submitted to the Gaming Commission. That may sound like a technicality.....but recall that a judge ruled in the previous lawsuit that the town was not required to post the SEQRA forms on their website because it didn't have a high speed connection.  So maybe technicality is a language the court will better understand than it did common sense.

And the horsemen at the Finger Lakes warned that a casino in Tyre could put the track out of business.  
 If actions are not taken by state officials to protect purse account levels and avoid a drop in state tax rates paid by the state, Brown said "racing at Finger Lakes will be gone in two to three years." He said 90% of his 500 members could not stay in business if purse levels drop below the $20 million or so mark they've been running in recent years. [Bloodhorse]
Kevin Law, the chairperson of the Location Board, told reporters that the decision was between Lago and nothing....prompting Jeff Gural to call that the stupidest statement I've ever heard anybody make in my whole life. And, in that interview, Gural again demonstrated the sense of entitlement that he had about this process.
"I finished the garage. I spent a quarter of a million dollars on Winterfest, thinking I would get the license. And I got screwed." [PressConnects]
In an absolutely delicious bit of irony, Gural is conducting a joint press conference on Tuesday morning along with Traditions at the Glen, the other unsuccessful applicant in the so-called Southern Tier region.  There - and I am writing this before the press conference whereas you are likely reading this afterwards - he and Traditions are reportedly set to announce a joint effort to win the 4th casino license which was expected to be awarded in the Catskills/Hudson Valley region, but which was withheld by the Board. You may recall that Gural had previously scoffed at the notion of a cooperative effort with his competitor when it had been raised by Traditions CEO Bill Walsh a few months ago.  
"We don't see any kind of partnership down the road at all with Traditions, and I think that our chances of getting the license are pretty excellent," said Gural.
...........
"Truthfully, I think if (Traditions owner Bill Walsh) won the bid, he would go broke," said Gural. "I told him that. I don't think that there are enough customers for both of us." [WBNG]
Well, as Gural most colorfully informed us last week, he's wealthy and is in no danger of going broke himself.  Unexpected developments often bring unexpected bedfellows.  And I guess Gural has changed his mind about there not being enough customers to go around.

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