Working together

Fair Game lines up 3 deals

Two casino candidates not yet on board

July 1, 2014
Updated 9:49 p.m.
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Working together

Proctors in Schenectady is part of a coalition of arts and entertainment venues throughout the state looking to strike a deal with potential casino operators to protect the venues from competition.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Proctors in Schenectady is part of a coalition of arts and entertainment venues throughout the state looking to strike a deal with potential casino operators to protect the venues from competition.

— Three of the five developers pursuing a casino in the Capital Region signed an agreement with a coalition of entertainment venues across upstate New York.

Developers with proposals in Cobleskill, Rensselaer and Schenectady reached an agreement with the Upstate Theater Coalition For A Fair Game, which is led by Proctors CEO Philip Morris. The deal ensures that the casinos do not compete with the arts venues.

Developers with proposals in Amsterdam and East Greenbush did not strike a deal with Fair Game. But Morris said he plans to continue discussions with Clairvest Group Inc. and Great Canadian Gaming Corp. — the group proposing the Amsterdam casino project — to still reach an agreement.

“Clairvest said to us that they didn’t have time to do it now but will do it subsequent to the application deadline,” Morris said. “It is in their hands. They did leave the door open for our conversations to continue.”

The Fair Game coalition is made up of 13 entertainment venues in the state including five in the region — Proctors, the Palace Theatre, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Times Union Center and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

The agreements with Fair Game ensure that would-be casino operators limit any entertainment venue on site to 1,000 seats or less. They would also have to set up sponsorships, ticket sales and other promotions for the venues.

The three operators who are pursuing sites in the region and signed an agreement would also pay Fair Game a portion of their net gaming revenue each year. Morris said the amount negotiated is different for each project based on location and size.

“The agreement to support our Fair Game fund would support the venues directly,” Morris said. “The amount of money from each is all in the same range but is a little bit different.”

Morris did not disclose the funding amounts after agreeing to confidentiality among the operators.

In East Greenbush, James Featherstonhaugh of Saratoga Casino reached individual agreements with Albany-area arts venues including the Palace Theatre, Times Union Center and Park Playhouse, rather than signing with Fair Game.

Featherstonhaugh said last week that he expects to reach additional agreements with area venues. The deals he proposed do not include a percentage of net gaming revenue.

“Clearly [Featherstonhaugh] did not include a number of impacted venues,” Morris said. “He doesn’t have an agreement with the Troy Music Hall, SPAC or Proctors.”

In all, 10 of 17 casino applicants in the Capital Region, Catskills and Southern Tier reached agreements with Fair Game. Morris said he is also looking to still reach an agreement with Caesars Entertainment for a casino in Woodbury, Orange County.

The casino hopefuls submitted applications with the state Gaming Commission on Monday. The applications require that developers reach a contract, agreement or memorandum of understanding with entertainment venues that would be affected by a casino.

According to the Request for Application, updates to applications can be made but it is up to the Gaming Commission’s Facility Location Board whether to accept additional documents ahead of choosing casino sites in the fall.

“The board, however, is not under any requirement to accept any such information,” the RFA states. “Failure to promptly notify the board of any changes or updates to information previously submitted in its application may be ground for disqualification.”

In Schenectady, Morris said the operator proposing a casino at the former Alco site — Rush Street Gaming — was the most direct and “very easy to deal with.” Rush does not plan to build an entertainment facility on site.

The Galesi Group is working with Rush to build a $300 million casino with apartments, hotels and restaurants between Erie Boulevard and the Mohawk River. The unveiling of the project in May was held at Proctors in downtown Schenectady.

“We are supportive of any facility that has a Fair Game agreement. At least it doesn’t crush us,” Morris said. “With Rush, we signed a fair agreement and look forward to working with them more.”

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July 2, 2014
7:03 a.m.
dagiacalone says...

Fair Game has also reached agreement with seven applicants in the two other Upstate regions where casino licenses will be granted in the Fall. Therefore, the "FairGame" Coalition (Concert Cartel?) may end up achieving joint booking and venue-size limitations, plus a revenue-sharing agreement with each of the 3 or 4 winning casinos. That could mean the equivalent of territorial exclusivity, and joint booking and ticket pricing, for each FairGame member, across all of the eastern portion of Upstate New York, plus midState locations such as Utica and Syracuse, and apparently stretching to their members in the Western end of the State.
If their anticompetitive joint negotiations are not stopped under the antitrust laws, the members of the FairGame Coalition will be allowed to leverage the protection that the State meant to give local and regional entertainment venues from local casinos into a vast network of competition-killing promises among themselves and between each entertainment center and far-spread casinos covering several large regions, and perhaps all of Upstate New York. Will the NYS Attorney General step in to stop this anti-consumer power grab?
For more analysis, including discussion of the inapplicability of the State Action Doctrine, go to

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