The Daily Gazette
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New York's casino plan might not attract biggest operators

New York's siting plan for four upstate non-indian live-table casinos might not attract the biggest casino operators in the country.

During day two of the Saratoga Institute on Racing and Gaming Law conference at the Gideon Putnam Hotel, Patrick Brown, of the lobbying firm Brown & Weinraub, said it will be a major challenge for Las Vegas casino interests to see a return on investment in New York's casino market. He said they expect a return on investments that can't be realized in the upstate area.

"I think it will be interesting to watch the competition," Brown said.

He added that some operators have a lot of capital and can afford to take risks, like a gamble that upstate could host a thriving casino. He noted that Genting is the only major casino operator that has expressed in interest in any of the four upstate casino licenses.

In response to this assessment, Tioga Downs Casino owner Jeff Gural, who wants a license to operate a live-table casino, said, "I hope you're right."

A full story on this is available HERE.

Later in the forum, Sen. John Bonacic, a Catskills Republican, argued that major operators, like MGM, Foxwoods and Caesars, have expressed interest in developing a casino in the Catskills because of proximity to New York City market.

Bonacic added, “I’m not saying they’re all going to make a bid for a license."

UPDATE: Richard Baldwin, managing director of Union Gaming Analytics, which is based in Las Vegas and does economic feasibility studies, including some for New York racinos, said only “tier two” casino operators are considering developing a casino in the three outlined regions. He said most large operators are interested in developing a casino only in New York City, which will be off-limits to casino development for about seven years under Cuomo’s plan.

He added that the proposed tax rates, which would be 10 percent for live-table games and 37 to 45 percent for slots, would be significantly higher than what operators pay elsewhere. Baldwin called the tax rates punitive and said they would limit the size and scope of proposed projects.

“I think the interest is muted to a large degree outside the New York City metro area,” he said.

Follow @poozer87 on Twitter for updates from the #casino panels.

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