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US – NYS Gaming Commission unanimously approves licences

By - 4 January 2016

The New York State Gaming Commission has unanimously approved licences to resort gaming destinations in Sullivan, Schenectady and Seneca Counties, ushering new jobs and investment, as well as revenue for local governments and school districts that will come to the regions as a result.

“New York State will soon realise the economic benefits of resort gaming destinations,” Commission Executive Director Robert Williams said. “These projects will create thousands of jobs, bring much-needed economic development to long-stressed communities and drive revenue to support schools and local governments – with zero taxpayer dollars.”

The destination resorts include new hotels, restaurants and other attractions that will serve as an additional incentive for tourists, including the more than 50 million tourists that visit New York City every year to Upstate regional attractions.

The New York Gaming Facility Location Board, appointed by the Commission, previously selected the three projects to be considered for licensure through a competitive bid process.

Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor will be a $320m investment and include a 51,000 square-foot gaming floor, 1,150 slot machines, 77 table games, public green spaces on the riverfront, and a new 150-room hotel.

Adelaar will be a $1.25bn investment by Empire Resorts, and EPR Properties, and will include an 18-storey casino, hotel and entertainment complex titled the Montreign Resort Casino, with 2,150 slot machines, 102 table games, and 332 luxury hotel rooms. They will also construct a 325,000 square-foot indoor waterpark lodge, entertainment village with retail and dining, and an 18-hole golf course.

Lago Resort & Casino will be a $425m capital investment and include 1,950 slot machines, 84 table games, a 205-room hotel and a 10,000 square-foot spa.

With a combined capital investment of more than $1.3bn, the three casinos will create more than 3,600 permanent jobs, with approximately 1,300 in Schenectady County, 1,050 in Sullivan County, and 1,250 in Seneca County. Construction will require nearly six million man hours, creating thousands of additional jobs.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation in July 2013 mandating that 80 percent of the State’s net tax revenue from casino gaming be used for elementary and secondary education in addition to existing state aid or property tax relief. In addition, 10 percent of the State’s gross tax revenue will go to each applicable region where the casinos are sited for local government assistance, and 10 percent to be split between the host county and host municipality. Based on the estimates of the licensees, these facilities will generate $212m annually for education, and each eligible region and host county/municipality will receive between $8m and $10.3m annually. Licensing fees will produce $151m.

A fourth facility, Tioga Downs Casino Racing and Entertainment in Nichols, was also selected by the Gaming Facility Location Board and is currently undergoing the Commission’s licensing review process.
The resorts were selected competitively based on the economic development impact of the resort, and were restricted to three regions of the state: the Hudson Valley/Catskills Region, the Capital Region and the Eastern-Southern Tier/Finger Lakes Region. No destination gaming resorts were to be authorized in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, New York City, Long Island or Indian exclusivity zones, and there will be a 7-year exclusivity period during which no further destination gaming resorts will be licensed by the State. Proposal One, overwhelmingly approved by New York voters in November of 2013, authorized the state legislature to approve up to seven destination gaming resorts in the state.

The Gaming Commission investigated the suitability of the three projects, including character and financial stability, and set criteria for licensing individuals and businesses employed by or doing business with the resort. Destination gaming resorts and all related service industries will be strictly and comprehensively regulated by the Gaming Commission. The minimum gambling age in destination gaming resorts will be 21, and no smoking will be authorised in the three destination gaming resorts.

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