New York approves three casino projects, but none in Orange County


new-york-casino-approvalsChristmas has come early for three of New York’s casino hopefuls as the state announced the winners of its license derby. Sixteen proposals had been vying for a maximum of four casino licenses, but the New York State Gaming Commission’s Facility Location Board announced just three winners on Wednesday, opting not to approve any of the six applications for Orange County, the region closest to New York City.

Without further ado, the winning projects are: the Montreign Resort Casino in the Catskills town of Thompson in Sullivan County. The $630m project is backed by Empire Resorts and its Monticello Casino & Raceway subsidiary. The resort is to be developed on the site of the old Concord hotel and will feature an 18-story hotel and an indoor waterpark.

The Finger Lakes town of Tyre in Seneca County will be the site of the Lago Resort & Casino, a $425m project that will feature 2,000 slot machines. The project is led by Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot.

The city of Schenectady is set to welcome the $300m Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor, which will feature a hotel and 1,100 slots, 66 gaming tables and 150 hotel rooms. The project is driven by Capital Region Gaming, an offshoot of Neil Bluhm‘s Rush Street Gaming.

The winning applicants will now have to submit themselves for background checks and anal probing by the Gaming Commission. Environmental reviews must still be conducted and none of the new casinos are expected to open their doors until 2017. Once the three licenses are officially awarded sometime next year, no new licenses can be issued for a period of seven years in New York, Westchester or Rockland counties.

Wednesday’s decision is a blow to Genting Americas, the subsidiary of the Malaysian conglomerate that operates the Resorts World Casino in New York City. Genting had dramatically outspent its competitors in lobbying after submitting two proposals for Orange County. However, Lim Kok Thay, the boss of Genting Bhd, has a majority interest in Empire Resorts, so he’s not going home totally empty handed.

Also falling short in Orange County were Caesars Entertainment, a tandem bid by Cordish Companies and Penn National Gaming and another tandem of Rush Street Gaming and Saratoga Casino and Raceway. The day’s other notable casualties included Hard Rock International, Mohegan Sun, Tioga Downs and Churchill Downs Inc.