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Friday, March 14, 2014

Empire's Destination Resort Plan Actually Does Include A casino

Empire Resorts announced, with great fanfare, the details of their planned casino at the old Concord site in the Catskills, to be called Adelaar (Dutch for 'eagle.'  Don't ask me).  The event took place in New York City, from where they hope to attract customers, making it clear that it's only 90 miles away.

Here's an illustration of the facility from their website that I'm sure they won't mind if I share.

One thing you'll notice right away is that there's no racetrack.  You know, the brand new Monticello Raceway with the 5/8ths oval that Jeff Gural, in no uncertain terms, assured us that Empire was going to construct to replace the current dilapidated plant.  Guess that was untrue.  Did he volunteer to take a lie detector test about that?  And I have it on good authority that the new track had been taken off the table long before the signal dispute began; more like around the time that the casino referendum was approved.  If you look at the plans and listen to how long they've been working on them, it's surely fair to wonder if it ever really was being contemplated, or if it was just a carrot to attract votes from the region and support from racing interests.

Here's the website for Adelaar, and if you scroll down to the video, you'll learn what exactly is being planned.  A destination resort in New York's Catskills region.  A cafe. A farmers market.  The famed "monster" championship golf course, redesigned for golfers of every level.  Amazing waterparks.  Superior hospitality offerings.  Indoor fun.  Outdoor adventure.  Over 1700 acres of beautiful Catskills landscape.  A village with shopping, dining, and movies.  A four-star hotel.  Substantial economic, social, and environmental benefits.  The destination in the northeast where people take their family and friends to.  Over and over and over again.

Oh, and yeah.  There's also.......[get ready].......a casino!  That word is mentioned exactly once in the video, and practically in passing, at the 1:48 mark.....while 'environment' or 'environmental' is mentioned three times.  'Gaming' and 'gambling' are mentioned zero times.  As if the casino is just another feature, and a rather minor one at that.  Definitely less of an attraction than the golf course, which gets its own 20 second segment.

Of course, without the casino, they're simply describing many of the things that comprised the business model that collapsed in the region decades ago, leading the local economy into the tailspin that has made the community so desperate for the lifeline that some believe casino gambling will provide.  (I'm surprised that they didn't promise a comedy club featuring Morey Amsterdam and Joey Bishop.)  But this of course is all about casino gambling, whether Empire and partner EPR Properties actually want to say so, or not.  It's all about getting people to sit their butts down at a slot machine or a blackjack table and gamble their money away.  That's the bottom line, pure and simple.  That's how Empire is going to make their fortune.  The rest of this is simply meant to gloss over and take the edge off the cold reality of gambling, and to portray it all as wholesome family fun.  It's a cynical lie.

And given their record with the racetrack, why should one even trust that Empire will deliver what they say?  In the last post, we heard an Empire exec say that they are "awaiting clarification pursuant to the New York State Gaming Commission Request for Application process to better understand if a new harness track may be required." Well, assuming that the Request for Application is similarly not going to require a championship golf course, a waterpark, a movie theater, or outdoor adventure, why should anyone believe that they will really follow through on those either?

 - I wrote about the unsuccessful/successful return of Honor Code over at the TimeformUS blog.


El Angelo said...

The hotel, spa and golf course make a ton of sense, though, because they do make money and put the place on a par with the Connecticut and Pennsylvania casinos. The water park? That's insane.

Nice piece as usual.

jk said...

Take my racetrack -- please!

SaratogaSpa said...

I wonder what the daily fees for the Monster course will be. I have some fun memories of playing that course "back in the day"

Alan Mann said...

Yeah, I'm thinking that the greens fees might be a few bucks more. :-)

Teresa said...

Empire is controlled by the same guy who owns Genting, according to the New York Times.