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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Odds and Ends

“The northeast of the United States is approaching a saturation point of gaming......As [new] states have come online, it has broken the monopolistic nature of Atlantic City on the east coast.”
“The closures ... have just highlighted the fact that gaming properties are not cash cows.....They are not necessarily printing money at casinos." [Daily Freeman]
Sounds like another pundit talking out against relying on casinos, right? Actually, it's Michael Treanor, CEO of the Nevele Casino, Resort, and Spa (or at least he was CEO until Tuesday), justifying his company's request for property tax concessions.  According to the article linked-to above, Treanor considers it 'an appropriate exchange for the amount of community benefits a casino will bring at a time when the gaming industry is experiencing a downturn.'

Leave it to a casino developer to try and turn the skittishness over the state of the gambling industry in the Northeast to its advantage.  It was just over a year ago that Treanor was saying almost exactly the opposite!
“Our ability to do business is based upon a scarcity of casinos...If the state allowed a dozen casinos to break ground, Ellenville would be toast. “We would never be able to build something luxurious enough to draw people,” he said. With only four casinos spread out over the entire state, though, whoever got a license could thrive. [NY Times]
How quickly things change.  Of course, at the time, Treanor was assuming, as were we all, that the other casinos would be spread out to the north and west; not potentially to the south towards New York City, in Orange County. 

Sullivan County officials, desperate to see one of the two Concord bidders - the only ones left standing in their county - win a license despite the push by developers in Orange, have hired a PR firm to help make its case at the crucial September 23 hearing scheduled in Poughkeepsie
"I heard from two different, very credible sources that by far the most important part in getting a casino is the applicant's presentation," said Walter Garigliano, attorney for the [County Industrial Development Agency].

The county will contract with [Troy-based] Gramercy [Communications] for $5,000 a month for up to 3 months, also paying the firm an additional $15,000 to create a video for the presentation in September. [Times Herald Record, limited free access]
If one assumes that one of the Orange proposals is going to be successful,  then perhaps Ulster County - home of the Nevele - needs to hire a PR firm as well, or risk getting shut out.

 - The Traditions Resort and Casino (note how, as opposed to the Nevele, 'Resort' gets top billing here) is also applying for tax breaks; sales and mortgage recording taxes, as well as, like with the Nevele, a payment-in-lieu-of property taxes.  They are proposing to build in Union, NY, in the Southern Tier (competing with Tioga Downs and Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre).

The three competitors for the Southern Tier license have already spent significant sums of money.
Although selections are still at least two months away, Traditions has already spent almost $2.8 million in casino pre-development costs, according to its IDA application. While the IDA has a non-refundable application fee of $1,000, Traditions and its fellow casino applicants had to pay the state a $1 million application fee in April.

Steven Greenberg, spokesman for Lago Resort & Casino, said Lago has already spent almost $5 million in pre-development costs. The Lago project has not yet applied for any tax breaks, Greenberg said, and will examine all options at the appropriate time.

Through the end of July, Tioga Downs has spent approximately $3.5 million on architectural and engineering fees and $5.9 million on the construction of the parking garage, said Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs. [Press & Sun-Bulletin]
Unfortunately for Traditions and Lago, their expenditures will likely go to waste, as Gural seems a lock for this license, as we've said before.

 - Senator John Bonacic, the chair of the Senate Committee on Racing/Wagering, spoke on a panel - which was ostensibly focused on legislative updates on racing - at the annual Albany Law School conference yesterday; when the subject apparently turned to casinos.  Bonacic made a point of glowingly referring to them as "resort destinations."  I don't know exactly what followed because Hegarty got fed up and declared a one week boycott on quoting politicians.  (What fun is that?)

In the normal world, when someone is at some kind of presentation and speaking favorably of an entity from which he/she receives a lot of money, one would expect that fact to be disclosed to the audience; if not by the speaker, then from the moderator, or from the organizers of the conference.  Like for example, researchers talking about the effectiveness of a particular drug.....   OK, bad example.  But you get the idea.  Not of course in the world of politics, especially in New York.  Bonacic collected over $50,000 from "Gambling & Casinos" for the 2012 election cycle; and as noted in the recent report by NYPIRG citing contributions for the period 2012-13, over $28,000 (not sure if there's any overlap there, but still).  I'd say that's rather relevant to his remarks, don't you?  In the normal world, anyway.


Figless said...

Not in the new normal.

Yet we have the chutzpah to criticize other countries for being corrupt.

Unknown said...
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BitPlayer said...

Your reference to the New England Journal of Medicine paper is misplaced. In fact, the paper does have an extensive discussion of the authors' conflicts of interest. The article you linked to does not deny that. It just says you have to be a careful reader to find it. In fact, it is normal for articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals to have a conflicts section, where the authors either report conflicts or say they have none.