Resorts World Catskills Earns Approval to Open VLT Parlor at Nepera Chemical Plant Site

Posted on: June 21, 2019, 06:13h. 

Last updated on: June 21, 2019, 06:13h.

Resorts World Catskills will get to open a $100 million video lottery terminal (VLT) parlor in Orange Country after a last minute deal by New York lawmakers was reached on Thursday night.

Resorts World Catskills VLT
Resorts World Catskills will have to clean up to the former Nepera Chemical Plant before it can build a VLT hall. (Image: Liz Cooke/Abandoned Hudson Valley)

The state legislature passed a final omnibus bill in the early hours of Friday morning, one that will allow the casino operator to place VLTs on the site of the former Nepera Chemical Plant in Woodbury, New York.

Resorts World Must Pay to Decontaminate Site

Empire Resorts – the operator of Resorts World Catskills – will have some work to do before it can open up at the new site. The Nepera Chemical facility was destroyed and the site is contaminated, meaning that the casino owner will have to clean up the site. According to lawmakers, Resorts isn’t getting any tax breaks to help them prepare the location for gambling.

The possibility of opening up a new VLT hall came because Resorts closed down a racino at Monticello Raceway in April. The track housed 1,100 machines, but the firm couldn’t justify keeping the VLTs in operation after a severe drop in traffic following the opening of Resorts World Catskills in Thompson last year.

The late-night deal in Albany gave the company permission to transfer its Monticello license over to the Woodbury location, removing the legal hurdles that had stood in the way of the move.

Local Government, Racetracks to Reap Benefits

Local politicians said that the move was a win-win, as the city had been looking for a way to get something out of a location that had become a negative for the local community.

“I’m not particularly pro- or anti-gambling so I used this opportunity to deliver real, substantive economic benefits to the constituents I represent,” state Sen. James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) said in a statement. “The former Nepera Chemical Plant property has been a contaminated blight in our community for years; as a result of this project, it will now be cleaned, put back on the tax rolls, and employ approximately 400 local residents.”

Several entities will share in the revenues generated by the new gambling hall.

Both Monticello Raceway and Yonkers Raceway will get a piece of the pie. For Monticello, 8.75 percent of revenues will help support racing at the track, and the legislation requires the “long-term operation of harness racing in Monticello,” ending concerns that Resorts would shut it down entirely now that the racino was closed.

MGM Resorts, which owns Yonkers Raceway, is working with Empire Resorts on a mitigation agreement which will compensate MGM for any loss in revenue because of the Woodbury facility, which will be located only about 45 miles away from Yonkers.

While state approval is a major step, the VLT parlor will still need to go through the local approval process in Woodbury before any work can be done on the site.

Resorts World Catskills is the largest of the four upstate New York casinos, but it has been largely a disappointment, falling well short of revenue projections. Since opening in February 2018, the resort has lost about $12.5 million per month.