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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Show (and Tell) Time for Location Board

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:


1.            Call to Order

2.            Consideration of Meeting Minutes for December 9, 2014

3.            Consideration of Recommendations of Gaming Facility Applicants for Gaming Commission Licensure

4.        Adjourn

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 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 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.)


Dan said...

I remember reading a portion (5%) of the VLT money from Nassau/Suffolk will go to NYRA/Horsemen. The OTB handle on Long Island has been decreasing- Lets see how this plays out.

Figless said...

I thought resorts had exclusivity downstate, I suppose not.

Alan Mann said...

Hi Dan - Thanks for that. I'm reading that it's 2.75% to the horsemen, .5% to breeders.

Dan said...

Alan, thanks for getting the correct numbers. I believe the AQU would get 75%+ from NYC. Just a wild guess on this.

Why would someone from Long Island drive to Yonkers for the slots? 11 bucks for tolls & further away from AQU.

Dan said...

Sorry, I meant AQU casino.

Anonymous said...


Bonnie L. said...

Alan, I really appreciate your take on the Casino Hunger Games, especially in my home town of East Greenbush. Again I have to say, we should never have been on the casino radar. Our law suit against our ptown zoning board, who re-interpeted the zoning law on Thompson hill from RB to accommodate the casino developers is a travesty. We are a town who has been held hostage by big money men in our community. We have been heard, but ignored by our town board. We are the worst location to site a casino, but casino lobbiest have thrown out a lot of money in Albany for favors. Shame on all of them, there isn't much integrity in politics anymore. Everyone wants something for themselves and the rest be damed. The Casino Hunger Games in East Greenbush is much like the movie. Many sacrifices have to be made for the ALMIGHTY CASINO. Here in East Greenbush, we are fighting for the survival of our community. SAVEEASTGREENBUSH is here to stay because we truly care about out comminity. If Cuomo wants a casino in East Greenbush, he certainly would be showing favoritism toward his friend, Feathers. The Umpire would be calling a FOUL. He would also be showing a total lack of regard for a community that doesn't meet the criteria for a casino siting. Alan, I kmow I'm getting wordy here, but everything is all wrong here, like a crazy nightmare. Too often money trumps good judgement, as is the case in East Greenbush. We are a community who has locked arms, and are resolute that we do not need a casino to help us financially. We are a wealthy community with a high tax base, but has been govern badly for too many years. We will do some house cleaning in the next election in 2015. Our cry is NOCASINO, NOT NOW, NOT HERE, NOT EVER! Merry Christmas, Alan.

Jim_C said...

Bonnie L, is so right. East Greenbush has financial problems, but their financial problems stem from a lack of management. If the so called leaders in Town Hall over the last 10 to 12 years would have taken better care of our money East Greenbush wouldn't be in the financial trouble it is. And yes Bonnie we do not meet the criteria that is written out for placement of the casino's.


Anonymous said...


From the north shore of Nassau County it's only 5 or 10 minutes more to Yonkers, depending on traffic of course. True there is the bridge toll but the one time I went I found getting in and out (on/off highway and parking) much easier.

cheers, Chris

Dan said...

Good point about north shore of Nassau County. Going south has lots of traffic to AQUA.

Figless said...

5 to 10 minutes to Yonkers. No way, no time, even at 3 in the morning.

20 miles from Great Neck, 30 minutes optimistically per G Maps.

Figless said...

oops I just opened my eyes and read the comment correctly, sorry, you wrote 5-10 minutes MORE.

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