New York State, casino licenses, Catskills

Scenic  Orange County is the most-prized area in the battle over New York State casino licenses. (Image: lowmileage.com)

If you want to operate a casino in New York State, you’re going to have to compete against some real heavyweights to do so. Major casino firms including Caesars Entertainment, the Genting Group and Penn National Gaming are among 17 applications that have been received by the New York State Gaming Commission in the race for up to four available licenses in the Empire State.

A total of 16 companies are now involved with the licensing, as Genting was responsible for two of the applications. All three of the available licensing areas are being contested, though it’s clear that some regions are considered more lucrative than others.

Competition Focused in the Catskills

As expected, the Catskills-Hudson Valley region will see the fiercest competition. Nine of the proposals are located in this area, where Orange County is seen as the best location near New York City currently available to developers. Interested companies include Caesars, Genting, Penn, and Empire Resorts.

Caesars, for instance, has proposed building Caesars New York in Woodbury, a town in Orange County. In their 6,000-page application, Caesars proposed building an $880-million casino resort in the sleepy town, located about 50 miles north of New York City.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring the Caesars brand to New York State and create a world-class entertainment facility,” said Caesars CEO and chairman Gary Loveman. “If we are successful in winning a license, Caesars New York will create thousands of jobs and become an engine for economic growth in the area.”

But they’re far from alone in their pursuit of the one or two licenses that will be awarded in the Catskills region. Genting (through a Resorts World subsidiary) has submitted two proposals, both in the region. And Empire Resorts is proposing a casino in Sullivan County, as is Mohegan Sun.

The Mohegan Sun resort would build a $550-million establishment located in Thompson, on the site of the former popular “Borscht Belt” Concord Resort Hotel.

“We’re tremendously excited to share our vision for the future of Sullivan County – a vision that features a world-class entertainment and tourism destination that will generate thousands of jobs and new economic development for the region,” said Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess.

Penn National is also fighting for a license. Their partnership with The Cordish Companies would see a $750-million resort known as Live! Hotel & Casino New York, to be built in Ulster County. Several local companies have also submitted proposals to build in the region.

Several Companies Vie for Other Licenses

In other parts of the state, five companies have submitted applications for a license in the Albany-Saratoga region. Interested parties include Saratoga Harness Racing, which also has a stake in a bid in the Catskills, and NYS Funding, which would help build a Hard Rock casino in the area. Meanwhile, three companies are vying for a license in the so-called Southern Tier, an area that borders northern Pennsylvania.

If there was any question that the firms looking to build in New York were taking the process seriously, it may have been answered by the size of the applications submitted. Even Caesars’ enormous pile of paperwork was dwarfed by one created by the developers of the proposed Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa in Ulster County. The group rented a U-Haul in order to deliver ten copies of their 10,000-page application, the product of two years of work, to regulators.