Montgomery County casino bid hits critical point
Failure to obtain concessions may doom proposal
MONTGOMERY COUNTY The state Gaming Commission’s casino siting board delivered a crushing blow to the hopes of a proposed casino in Montgomery County on Friday.
On behalf of the casino developers, county officials had asked the Gaming Commission to amend the casino application guidelines that were released earlier this year. Specifically, the would-be developer and operator of the proposed casino were looking for a 60-day extension on the application deadline and a $25 million reduction in the gaming licensing fee.
In an email, Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park said, “It is simply not feasible or fair to alter any provision of the RFA [request for application] or make concessions at the request of a bidder. To do so would create an unfair bidding process for every other potential bidder and invalidate the RFA.”
The casino developers and county officials met with the Gaming Commission Thursday. During the meeting they outlined what they needed to move forward with their plans.
Clairvest Group Inc. and Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the development team behind the $250 million proposal, had previously stated that they could not move forward with the plans unless they were granted the concessions. The application deadline is June 30. It is unclear at this time if the proposed casino’s developers will back out of the casino competition.
County officials had said they were asking for the extension because the two companies had to reconfigure their plans to adjust to the spending requirements that the Gaming Commission released on May 12.
County Exectuive Matt Ossenfort said he would meet with the development team in the coming days to discuss how to proceed and whether an application will still be submitted.
“I hope for the sake of the residents of Montgomery County the plans move forward,” he said.
Ossenfort felt the $50 million licensing fee should be reduced to $25 million, citing the economic woes and small population of Montgomery County.
“We are asking to be treated more like Broome or Tioga County, not like Albany or Rensselaer,” Ossenfort said at a City Council meeting in Amsterdam earlier this week.
They stated plans to pay an increased tax rate on slot machines if they were awarded a casino. They said the higher tax rate would “make the state whole” in the long run.
Earlier this week, the Florida Town Board and the Amsterdam City Council approved resolutions in favor of the casino proposal.
The proposed casino would sit on roughly 512 acres that straddle the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam.
The plans for the $250 million three-phase project include a casino, hotel, farmers market, two 18-hole golf courses and 200 residential villas.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who represents part of Montgomery County and helped arrange the meeting between the siting board and the county officials, provided a statement following the decision.
“I hope that a proposal is still submitted and that the state siting board gives it the full consideration that it deserves,” he said.