It's a busy time of year, so sorry again for the sparse posting of late, as the announcement of the Location Board's recommendations in the casino sweepstakes fast approaches.
However, the action will really just be getting started once Kevin Law tells us who the winners and losers are (and it's subject to one's interpretation as to whether the winners are the winners or the losers) some time shortly after 2 PM on Wednesday. The reactions from the developers and the communities will surely span the full gamut of emotions ranging from euphoria to rage, and either, or both, will likely be heard and felt from winners and losers alike. Some will appeal directly to Governor Cuomo, questioning how the results comport with the spirit of the casino law. Some of the bitterness could spill into the legal arena.
Then the Gaming Commission will begin their process of assessing each of the recommended candidate's licensability, with the help of the State Police. As I've pointed out, recent history suggests that the ultimate result could differ from what these gentlemen come up with on Wednesday; I'd rate the chances at around 25% that that turns out to be the case. That phase will be another chance for the meddling governor to meddle. This location board is one thing. Despite the fact that it's comprised entirely of men with past ties to the governor - some more so than others - they seem to be earnest about their task, and we can only hope that the two members, at least, who I'd surmise are certainly on Cuomo's contacts list haven't been getting gubernatorial texts in the middle of the night. But the Gaming Commission is Cuomo's commission. If, for some reason, he has a strong opinion against any of these development teams, it's hard to believe that this commission will proceed contrary to his wishes.
Regardless of whether or not that's the case, you can be sure that not all of the losing developers are just going to slink away. One can expect a plentiful helping of mud to be slung towards those winning teams in whom the others may sense some vulnerabilities with respect to their licensability.
And, of course, once everything is worked out, we shall see just how fast they get built, how many good jobs they really create, how much business they bring to (or suck from) surrounding communities, how their results stack up against their projections, how many local customers declare bankruptcy or lose their homes.
But it will all start on Wednesday. The Public Notification issued by Gaming Commission would qualify, I believe, as being cryptic:
So, let the licensure-ing begin! You'll be able to watch the proceedings live via the Gaming Commission homepage; I'm sure they'll be a direct link right here somewhere come game time if it's still not there now. And of course, Twitter will be the place to be for those of us who just have to experience the world in real time. Unfortunately, I expect to be otherwise occupied, and I'm fine with finding out an hour later (though not much more than that!). But I'm sure that you can get live updates here, amongst many other places.
I guess I should try to squeeze in some picks, which I will endeavor to do at some point on Tuesday. But seriously, other than my original suspicions towards those who I consider to be politically favored, I have no idea at this point. And I don't think anyone else really does either. "There are a million rumors running around, but nobody knows anything." So said Thomas Wilmot, hoping to build the Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre (one of the scenarios which would definitely spur a flurry of legal action). We've heard the rumor about Schenectady having an inside track; this above-linked-to article on Syracuse.com refers to the belief that the Catskills will get two licenses after and despite all the angst over Orange County. That's what everyone assumed would be the case when this started.
I don't know where any such rumors would be coming from though. I wonder, as I write this as midnight approaches on Monday, whether the location board itself knows definitively what they're going to announce.
- In the meantime, VLT's are coming to Long Island, likely before any of these casinos are up and running (with the possible exception of Tioga Downs, where Gural says he can have casino table games up in six months). As you may recall, Governor Cuomo inserted a provision that provided for VLT parlors whether the casino referendum passed or not. Since it did, we get both, oh goodie! Both Nassau and Suffolk OTB have plans for 1,000 machine facilities; "slots in a box" as the Times article refers to them. One thing to be said about that: it at least dispenses the hypocrisy about some of the window dressing that we've seen in the casino proposals. No idyllic gardens or ponds here; just a bunch of machines catering to mindless gambling......to the tune of some $150 million in net profits a year expected at the Nassau facility.
One thing's for sure: whatever Cuomo's motivation was for supporting these smaller VLT parlors - a bone for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a hedge against the referendum being defeated, or simply a further effort to bleed more out of the gambling stone - one can be sure that he wasn't thinking about the fortunes of the racing industry. While Yonkers could lose a very small piece of its action (GM Bob Galterio did note during his FIOS interview that they've managed to maintain a number of customers from Long Island even after Resorts World opened), one would think that the Big A racino would surely stand to lose out the most. And for NYRA, it's a potential double whammy: Any reduction in Resorts World action would negatively effect payments for purses and infrastructure.....while the new slots parlors will be new competition for Long Island OTB dollars that presently go to racing. [UPDATE: Reader Dan points out that the NYRA horsemen will get a portion of this slots revenue. Mr. Hegarty reported last year that it's 2.75% to horsemen and .5% to breeders.)