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Governor Andrew Cuomo promised it. NYS Senator John Bonacic guaranteed it. And Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther supported it from day one.
And now, 13 months after New York State residents voted to allow legalized casino gaming, Sullivan County has its wish.
In a much-anticipated announcement by the New York Gaming Facility Board on Dec. 17 in Albany, Sullivan County finally got the prize they had waited more than 40 years to unwrap.
It was an exciting moment for many Sullivan County residents as the Facility Board announced that Empire Resort/EPR’s Montreign Resort Casino proposal in the Town of Thompson had been selected for a Catskill/Hudson Valley Region casino license.
In November 2013, Governor Cuomo visited Sullivan County the day after the statewide casino resolution passed and said, “The message is simple, this is a huge, huge win for the State of New York.
“This is a game changer,” Cuomo said in 2013. “I think it is going to fundamentally change the economy in the Catskills.”
Sen. Bonacic predicted this week that “…You can take it to the bank, that we’ll have at least one resort destination [casino] in Sullivan County.”
And Assemblywoman Gunther, who had attended hearings, wrote letters and attended many meetings supporting a Sullivan County casino, was elated for her district and its residents.
Sullivan County Partnership President and CEO Marc Baez travelled to Albany on Wednesday along with dozens of other casino supporters to witness the announcement in person.
“Beginning in the summer of 2013, we travelled throughout New York State to secure Proposition One’s success,” he said. “All of our hard work has finally achieved success. The Catskills are back!”
The Facility Board so much agreed, “Montreign had a superior proposal based on the statutory requirements.”
“It was larger and more varied and more interesting than the other proposals and Montreign took advantage of its location in the Catskills Mountains.”
In somewhat of a surprise announcement, the Facility Board also declined to award a second available license in the Catskill Region, stating, “It would be too great a risk” [to Montreign’s success].
That meant that the six possible candidates in Orange County, one in Ulster County and Mohegan Sun in Sullivan County, had struck out.
The Facility Board, which worked for nearly nine months to reach their decision, said Montreign’s substantial experience, local support and plan to use the existing nearby labor force put it at the top of the heap.
Two other licenses were also awarded, one to Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor, Schenectady and the other to Lago Resort and Casino in the Finger Lakes Region town of Tyre, Senaca County.
Combined, the three projects are estimated to generate $1.3 billion in capital investment and generate 3,600 full-time jobs once complete in two years’ time.
Once operational and based on blended tax rates, the facilities anticipate generating $212.4 million annually for education statewide on top of existing state aid. In addition, each eligible region and host county/municipality will receive between $8 million and $10.3 million annually.
Watch a video detailing the Montreign plan here.
Originally published in Sullivan County Business Edge: Winter 2014.