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Casino hopefuls meet deadline

Local applications delivered by truckload

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
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A marquee at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard in downtown Schenectady promotes the proposed Mohawk Harbor Casino on Monday, the day casino proposals were due at the New York State Gaming Commission offices in Schenectady.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
A marquee at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard in downtown Schenectady promotes the proposed Mohawk Harbor Casino on Monday, the day casino proposals were due at the New York State Gaming Commission offices in Schenectady.

— Developers proposing casinos in Amsterdam, Cobleskill, East Greenbush, Rensselaer and Schenectady all submitted applications to the state Gaming Commission’s offices in Schenectady on Monday.

The applications were delivered by the truckload, with some totaling hundreds of boxes. Now that the five Capital Region applications are in, the Gaming Commission’s Facility Location Board will review them and choose a site in the fall.

In all, 17 applications were submitted, with casinos being proposed in the Capital Region, Catskills/mid-Hudson Valley region and the Southern Tier. Four casino licenses will be awarded to the three regions, with one region receiving two licenses.

“NYS, picks the best site! Mohawk Harbor.” That’s what the former State Theater’s marquee read at the intersection of State Street and Erie Boulevard as vans, trucks and U-Hauls dropped off casino applications from across upstate New York before the 4 p.m. deadline.

John Matarazzo, owner of the marquee, said a downtown organization paid to promote the Schenectady site, but he did not disclose the business. Matarazzo said the message would be displayed until next week.

Riverfront work

At the same time, down the street on Erie Boulevard, demolition of a building at the former Alco site next to the Mohawk River is ongoing as the Galesi Group preps the property for its riverfront development.

The Rotterdam-based developer is partnering with Rush Street Gaming of Chicago for a $300 million casino — Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor — with apartments, hotels and restaurants. The entire project comes with a $450 million price tag.

Another waterfront casino is being pitched at de Laet’s Landing in the city of Rensselaer. Hard Rock International released details on Monday of its $300 million casino plan, which will include a 100-room hotel and Hard Rock Cafe.

Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer and Capital District Off-Track Betting Corp. President John Signor hand-delivered the Rensselaer casino application, touting the proposal as having one of the most popular names in the gaming industry.

Officials from Howe Caverns in Cobleskill drove to the Gaming Commission’s offices in a black van with the Howe Caverns name and logo displayed on the doors. The application’s 17 boxes just fit in the back of the van.

On Monday, it was revealed that Nevada-based Full House Resorts and Michigan developer Michael Malik are partners on the project. Lee Iacocca, engineer of the Ford Mustang and former CEO of Chrysler, is also involved in the project.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway pulled its van alongside Howe Caverns’ Monday afternoon to submit its casino application for East Greenbush, which totaled 35 boxes.

James Featherstonhaugh, minority owner of Saratoga Casino and Raceway, is working with Churchill Downs of Kentucky on plans for a $300 million casino at Thompson Hill, called the Capital View Casino & Resort.

A group opposing that proposal, Save East Greenbush, submitted a binder of petitions with more than 2,000 signatures to the Gaming Commission on Monday.

The binder, which also includes letters of opposition and other public comments from local residents, will be added to the casino application, a Gaming Commission spokesperson said.

Save East Greenbush also filed an Article 78 lawsuit last week against the Town Board and the project’s developers challenging the June 12 vote by the board that approved a resolution of support for a casino.

Saratoga Casino vans also dropped off an application for Featherstonhaugh’s $670 million proposed casino project in Newburgh, Orange County. Rush Street Gaming — East Greenbush’s competitor in the Capital Region — is a partner on the project.

“We are pleased to join Saratoga in developing a world-class casino for Newburgh,” Rush Street CEO Greg Carlin said in a statement. “Our history of community collaboration will ensure that the city of Newburgh, its residents, the surrounding communities and the state of New York realize this great opportunity.”

That means Featherstonhaugh or Rush Street could be awarded two casino licenses. Rush’s plans for a casino in Newburgh will not affect the Schenectady casino project, according to David Buicko, chief operating officer of the Galesi Group.

Despite failing to receive a 60-day extension to finish the application, Clairvest Group Inc. and Great Canadian Gaming Corp. also submitted their casino application on time for a proposed project in Montgomery County.

The group is pitching a $250 million casino on 520 acres in the city of Amsterdam and town of Florida. Plans include a hotel, apartments, golf courses and a farmers market.

A parade will be held today in Amsterdam to highlight local support for the proposal. The event was organized by residents in the city and will start at 5 p.m. in the Tecler School parking lot.

Before the Facility Location Board chooses casino sites in the fall, public presentations of each project will take place in the next month or two. Public hearings will also be held in the three regions before casino licenses are awarded.

The Gaming Commission will unveil more details of the proposed projects in the coming weeks. Executive summaries of each project will be posted online next week, with full applications released later in July.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, hviccaro@dailygazette.net or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

 
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