Upstate Casino Applicants Jockey for Support

ALBANY (AP) -

Developers competing for upstate New York casino licenses are promoting everything from their ability to pull gamblers from neighboring states to novel amenities such as local wines and zip lines as siting decisions near.

A state board is mulling 16 applications for up to four casino licenses spread among three regions: the Albany area, the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region and the Catskills and mid-Hudson Valley.

Lago Resort & Casino touted deals to work with theaters in the region and to promote local vineyards. One group behind a proposed casino at the old Concord hotel in Monticello announced a partnership with a local ski slope and fun park to create a “mountain coaster” and a zip line. Another promoted a deal to give guests access to the nearby Monticello Motor Club track.

“It’s not going to be about whose casino neon sign is bigger than the other guys’ casino neon sign, it’s going to be about who can drive tourism to upstate New York,” Montreign’s Charles Degliomini said. “And that’s us.”

Casino expansion has been promoted as an economic development engine for lagging areas upstate. But the process has played out amid concerns about market saturation in the Northeast and in New York state, which already has five tribal casinos and nine smaller terminals.

Board members repeatedly asked presenters pointed questions about how their casino would affect other gambling operations. Would they draw customers now gambling in Pennsylvania? How would competing casinos in the region affect their business?

Mitchell Grossinger Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, told the board on Tuesday that he believes that a Monticello casino like the one he was backing would not be sustainable if the board grants another regional license in neighboring Orange County, which is closer to the massive New York City market.

Board members are expected to announce decisions in the fall, though there is neither a precise timetable nor an obligation to initially grant all four licenses.