RSS Feed for this Blog

Monday, July 28, 2014

Casino Bidders' Generosity is Not Universal

In the Gaming Commission's extremely ambitious timeline, July 21 was the date that oral presentations by the New York casino bidders could have begun.  However, the commission spokesperson Lee Park expects the majority of presentations will be given after Labor Day.  And with bidders such as Genting and Saratoga Harness yet to obtain the necessary environmental approvals (SEQRA), they certainly need the extra time.  Seems to me that it's the bidders that are driving the scheduling, as they would surely want to have that approval in hand before they make their presentations.  Also seems as if it throws the whole timing off. 

The state is expected to announce the casino locations in the early fall, according to the Gaming Commission website.  [Saratogian]
Well, some people might consider 'after Labor Day' to indeed be 'the early fall.'  Assuming that, following the presentations, the siting board is at least going to go through the motions of doing their due diligence before they award the licenses according to the governor's wishes, you gotta think that we're talking more about mid-to-late fall before the decisions are announced.

The local officials who are striving to bring a casino to their locale have a lot riding on the outcome....but some more than others.  This article in the Times Herald-Record discusses some of the goodies that were promised by casino hopefuls in order to obtain the towns' approvals; and, no doubt, to impress the Gaming Commission with their 'generosity' and commitment to the community.  $36 million in infrastructure enhancements to South Blooming Grove (a village with an annual budget of $1.2 million); $20 million in transportation upgrades for Woodbury; $50 million in cash for Tuxedo (plus upgrades to the boat club).

However, the host towns in greater financial need don't seem to have done nearly as well.  Seems these companies aren't quite as magnanimous when the prospective hosts are desperate for what they perceive to be an economic lifeline.  The town supervisor of Newburgh seemed like he was afraid to even ask for anything from Saratoga Harness.  ""I think what we proposed to them is a business proposition rather than a Santa List.....The casino has to make money, too."
He did arrange for the casino to pay a total of $2.6 million to the Valley Central, Wallkill and Marlboro school districts, all of which fall within the town's boundaries, and for the company to pay the City of Newburgh about $1.2 million per year in perpetuity. [Times Herald-Record]
In the Catskills, the struggling region that has been trying to get casinos for decades, the Town Supervisor of Thompson, where there are two bidders for the Concord site, said "We're happy to have the growth."  The town doesn't have a host agreement with either of those bidders.  And the developer at the Nevele in Wawarsing, right near Ellenville, not only isn't lavishing cash on the towns; they are actually requesting some generous tax breaks
It will, however, mitigate some of the effects of the casino by providing security cameras and paying for DARE and for anti-gambling and alcohol-prevention programs, but the amount spent will be less than $500,000.
  How nice of them!

The above-mentioned Supervisor of Thompson, one Bill Rieber, is rather peeved, one might say, at an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn who has sent a letter to the Gaming Commission criticizing one of the two proposed Concord facilities - the one by Empire / EPR Properties (the one related to Genting).
"The gloves are off. Anything less than a strong and very public statement from the Orthodox community leaders denouncing this unorthodox letter will be construed by us as total support of the content and Rabbi himself. Twenty-years plus of relationship building will be for naught. Game over.
"Mr. Caller, trying to make a name for himself in a lame attempt to run for Assembly in Brooklyn, has the unmitigated gall to cripple the efforts of so many people to bring gaming to Sullivan County." [Times Herald-Record]
Rieber wants nothing less than a very public and very demonstrable rebuke from the local Orthodox community, in writing.  Or else.  The interesting question here is why Caller, an attorney who has signaled his interest in running for the state Assembly, singled out the Empire project and not the one by Mohegan Sun and Louis Cappelli.  He would not explain why.  I'm sure there's gotta be a reason, don't you?  One that deals with the man's self-interest and/or political ambitions, no doubt.


jk said...

OTM Al says:
27 Jul 2014 at 05:01 pm | #

Mr. Pricci, if that is what you call holding feet to the fire, no wonder the reporting is so poor. Holding feet to the fire are guys like Tom Noonan and Alan Mann, must read blogs addressing real issues rather than low hanging fruit.

Alan Mann said...

Thanks jk! Glad to see that somebody other than you and Figless are reading this thing! :-p