What happened to the state’s casinos?
For decades, casino operators viewed the potential for casinos in the Catskills region of New York as the mother lode of gaming development.
The region’s proximity to the New York City metropolitan area and its history as a vacation destination made it a near ideal location for casino development.
State legislators also saw casinos in upstate New York, a region that has had difficulty recovering from the loss of a host of manufacturing industries, not only as a tool for economic development, but tax revenue.
In 2013, the New York state legislature passed the Upstate New York Economic Development Act, which provided the legal framework for commercial casinos in the state.
The act went into effect on January 1, 2014. When signing the bill,
Governor Andrew Cuomo stated, “This new law will bring the state one step closer to establishing world-class destination gaming resorts that will attract tourists to upstate New York and support thousands of good-paying jobs as well as new revenue for local businesses.
For too many years, gaming revenue has left New York for our neighboring states.”
The act authorized the issuance of up to four casino licenses.
Destination gaming resorts were authorized in three regions of the state: the Hudson Valley-Catskill region, the Capital District-Saratoga region, and the CentralSouthern Tier region.
The act further specified that one region could have up to two casinos, if determined by the State Siting Board.
It was initially believed that the Hudson Valley-Catskills region, given its proximity to the New York City metropolitan area,
Could support two casino resorts. The act further precluded the development of destination gaming resorts in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties,
New York City or Long Island, and included a seven-year exclusivity period during which time no further destination gaming resorts would be licensed by the state. Subsequent to passage of the act,
The board issued a “Request for Application” and in turn received 17 applications.
The board selected the developers of Del Lago Casino Resort for the Central-Southern Tier region,
The developers of the Rivers Casino in Schenectady for the Capital District-Saratoga region, and Empire Resorts,
Owner of Monticello Raceway, to build what was to become Resorts World Catskills for the Hudson Valley-Catskills region.
The State Siting Board took great care in selecting sites that would be best suited to fulfill the governor’s mandate,
protect racetracks and New York Indian casinos from undue cannibalization, and prevent oversaturation.
The board further made a decision to limit the Hudson Valley-Catskills region to one license, despite the region’s proximity to the New York City metropolitan area.
State legislators subsequently awarded that license to another candidate in the Central-Southern Tier region.
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