Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Rolling the Dice: Big Name Casinos Duke it Out for Spots Around NY State

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New York is embarking on a major expansion of casino gambling, starting with four Vegas-style resort casinos upstate, at least one of which could be as close as an hour’s drive north of the city. NY1's Bobby Cuza looks at some of the possibilities in part one of his series, "Rolling the Dice."

Forget Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Some of the biggest names in casinos are placing their next big bet on New York.

Caesars Entertainment's Darold Londo is describing a proposed Caesars resort casino on 115 acres of currently unused land in Woodbury, just down the street from the outlet mall. It would include not just a state-of-the-art casino, but a hotel, six restaurants and an outdoor performance venue.

“It’s absolutely spectacular,” says Londo. “Anything that you would expect, you know, to find in a casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, you’ll find here in Woodbury.”

This $1.5 billion proposal by Genting, another casino heavyweight, would feature a spa, gardens, a fairground and more in Tuxedo, just 35 miles from the city.

There’s a proposed Mohegan Sun in Sullivan County and a proposed Hard Rock casino just across the river from Albany.

In all, there are 16 bidders who recently submitted application materials literally by the truckload. They're competing for four licenses to be issued only within these upstate regions: the Catskills and Hudson Valley; the capital region around Albany; and the eastern southern tier—with no region getting more than two.

“It’s up to four casinos that are authorized right now. So the gaming facility location board, conceivably, could vote on none, all the way up to a total of four within those three regions,” says New York State Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams.

Gambling is, of course, not new to New York, which is already home to five Indian casinos in the far reaches of upstate and nine so-called "racinos" adjacent to racetracks—like the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct in Queens, a Genting property.

You’ll find only electronic slot machines and games like roulette at those properties, though. The new resorts will feature table games with dealers, plus amenities designed to draw in tourist dollars.

Those 16 proposals are currently being considered by a specially appointed state commission. Public presentations and hearings are set for next month, with winners selected sometime this fall, and the casinos expected to open within about two years.

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