At long last, gaming board to recommend casino sites

CAPITAL REGION — After months of rumors and speculation, sites will be chosen Wednesday for New York’s first commercial casinos.

The Gaming Facility Location Board plans to recommend up to four casino projects in the Capital Region, Catskills/Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes/Southern Tier during a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. in Meeting Room 6 at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be no public comment period during the meeting.

Under the Upstate NY Gaming and Economic Development Act, the board can recommend up to four projects, with each region receiving at least one license and one region receiving two. It is anticipated the Catskills/Hudson Valley area, closest to the New York metropolitan area, will receive a second license.

During the meeting, the board plans to explain why it chose each project, according to Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park. That information will be provided in the form of a document.

“Before they vote on that document, they will give a comprehensive overview of that document that will explain how they came to the decisions that they came to,” Park said.

The five-member board will vote on the recommendations, close the meeting and then take questions from the media.

The board’s recommendations will be passed to the Gaming Commission, which will award casino licenses after developers meet requirements under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and background checks on the applicants are completed by state police.

There are 16 casino applications in the three regions, with four proposals from the Capital Region,

nine in the Catskills/Hudson Valley and three in the Southern Tier. Here is a breakdown of the local proposals:

Supporters boast “Schenectady is ready” for a casino with “the best team” and “the best proposal” in a city with more than 60,000 residents and a school district struggling to balance its budget.

Rotterdam developer The Galesi Group and Rush Street Gaming of Chicago are proposing the $330 million Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor on the former Alco site between Erie Boulevard and the Mohawk River.

The casino will house 1,150 slot machines and 66 table games with an adjacent 150-room Four Points by Sheraton hotel. Plans also include a banquet facility and marketplace operated by the Mallozzi Group.

The casino is projected to bring in $223 million in revenue by its third year of operation and create 1,200 direct jobs.

The proposal is part of a $150 million project previously planned by Galesi to transform the 60-acre brownfield site into a waterfront community with 304 apartments, 70 condominiums and 10 townhouses. Plans also include a 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, 60,000 square feet of office and retail space and a harbor with 50 boat slips. The site will also feature public access to the waterfront with biking and walking paths.

Plans for the harbor await approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Some city residents, including those in the nearby Stockade neighborhood, have expressed concerns about flooding and traffic due to development, especially with a casino.

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