New York state gambling regulators on December 21, 2015 approved licensing for three new casinos. Preliminary construction for the casinos had already started in Schenectady, the Finger Lakes and the Catskills. Now, with formal licensing approved, full scale construction and financing can proceed unencumbered. The five members of the New York Gaming Commission unanimously approved all three licenses with no formal comments attached other than noting that all financial, legal, environmental and criminal background checks were satisfactory. Sixteen applications for these three licenses were submitted in 2014. The Gaming Commission took a full year for careful review before announcing licenses for the new casinos.
The Montreign Resort Casino will be built in the Catskills town of Thompson in Sullivan County. The Rivers Resort & Casino will be built in Schenectady at Mohawk Harbor. The Lago Resort & Casino will be built in the Finger Lakes town of Tyre in Seneca County. All three areas will experience a significant boost to the local economies. More than 3200 full-time jobs will be created to support the casinos. Projections of $265 million in taxes along with $136 million in licensing fees are estimated on an annual basis.
The awarding of the Lago Resort & Casino didn’t come without controversy. The Turning Stone Resort Casino is located only 65 miles away in the town of Verona and is operated by the Oneida Indian Nation. The tribe’s attorney says that the decision to build Lago was flawed and that its’ revenue will be siphoned off Turning Stone. They will be going to court to try and stop the construction of the new $425 million casino which will include a spa, restaurants, a 207 room hotel, 85 gaming tables and 2000 slot machines. The owners of Lago Resort, Wilmorite and Peninsula Pacific, say the entire Finger Lake area with all of its local businesses, wineries, breweries and farms, will benefit from increased tourism and that Turning Stone Resort shouldn’t worry.
The Mohawk Harbor project of Rivers Resort and Casino is part of a larger redevelopment effort of the industrial riverfront. Work had already begun on the blighted area in anticipation of licensing by the Gaming Commission. The $300 million project will have a hotel, high-end steakhouse, 1100 slot machines and 66 gambling tables. The River Resort and Casino is expected to be an economic engine for the area and a magnet for new businesses.
The Montreign Resort Casino project comes in at $630 million and includes an 18-story hotel and casino complex, meeting spaces and an indoor waterpark. The developer for the project, Empire Resorts, operates through a subsidiary of the nearby Monticello Casino & Raceway. It’s located at the site of the old Concord resort outside Monticello.