Empire Resorts Reveals Plans for Potential Catskills Casino

Posted on: March 18, 2014, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: March 18, 2014, 05:00h.

Empire Resorts Concord Resort New York State gambling
Empire Resorts – which has a slots parlor at this Monticello racetrack – has submitted plans for a major casino resort on the site of what was once the old Concord Hotel in New York State’s Catskills region (Image: Empire Resorts)

Empire Resorts already has a hand in the New York gambling scene; after all, they currently run the slots parlor at the Monticello racetrack, which has proven to be a popular (if small) operation. But the company is now thinking bigger, as they have unveiled their plan to build a major casino resort in the Catskills region of upstate New York.

Empire Resorts certainly won’t be the only firm that bids on a casino in the mountains of New York State, though. Until the state opens up licensing opportunities in New York City – which won’t happen for at least seven years – the Catskills region is likely to be the hottest commodity in the state’s gambling expansion. That means that a dozen or more proposals might be made there. Empire and partner EPR Properties are simply the first to make their bid public.

Massive Resort Complex Planned

According to Empire, they plan to build a hotel-casino complex that also includes spas, retail outlets, a full 18-hole golf course and an entertainment hall, as well as a 650,000-square-foot casino that will reportedly have a unique name once completed. There will also be family friendly areas to encourage a wider variety of tourism, including an adventure center with zip lines and a “mountain coaster,” as well as an indoor/outdoor water park.

The resort – to be known as Adelaar (apparently the Dutch word for “eagle” and definitely the English word for “how many ways can you misspell this?”) – would be designed to draw visitors from the New York City metro area to help revitalize the region.

“As a major Sullivan County landowner, we are very excited about the prospect of bringing the Adelaar vision to life,” said EPR Properties CEO David Brain. “This new world-class destination resort will deliver significant economic benefits for local businesses, create dependable employment and have a positive impact on tourism.”

Reviving the Phoenix

The Catskills were once a thriving tourist region, with resorts that drew countless area visitors decades ago. But that industry slowly dried up with changing demographics and the loss of the “Dirty Dancing” Borscht Belt crowd, a trend some hope can be reversed with the introduction of a new casino. The plans for Adelaar were unveiled in New York City – another sign that while the resort may be placed in a rural area, the goal will be to bring  in money from the city.

The plan would be to use about 1,700 acres of land outside Monticello, in the same area where the Concord Resort once stood. At only about 90 miles northwest of New York City, the casino would be well within driving range for most of the tri-state area.

The state won’t start officially asking for plans to be submitted until the end of the month, but Empire hopes that getting their plan into the public eye earlier will put them in prime position once the battle truly begins. With plenty of financing, experience in the area and the ability to jump right into construction as soon as they are approved, the company feels they have plenty of advantages over their competition.

But others want to get into the fight as well. According to reports, at least a dozen different firms have outlined plans – some more detailed than others – for projects that would compete for the same casino license. That number will be cut down over time, though: most likely, some outfits will decline to pay the $1 million non-refundable fee that comes with the official application process. And while some plans seem to be targeting Orange County – further to the south and closer to New York City – early indications are that those proposals have less of a chance than those in Sullivan County, as an Orange County casino could be close enough to severely impact the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, a popular slots parlor just minutes north of the city.

Empire Resorts is owned by Malaysian billionaire K. T. Lim, who is better known as the owner of the Genting Group, a worldwide casino developer.