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New York Casino Development Continues

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Casino development in New York State has forged ahead during the month of February.

The New York State Gaming Commission released a report Friday detailing the selection process of the Gaming Facility Location Board.  The report contains detailed findings on all 16 applicants in earlier bidding, which resulted in recommendations for new casinos in the Catskills, Schenectady and the Finger Lakes.

The original decision came under heavy criticism, especially from the economically depressed Southern Tier, where officials and boosters claimed that "the true Southern Tier" was left out in the cold.

Back in December, Governor Andrew Cuomo asked the Gaming Facility Location Board and commission to consider awarding a fourth license for a Southern Tier site.

During its Friday meeting, the Gaming Facility Location Board moved such a motion forward, approving a draft request for applications.  Further approval is needed before bidding can begin.

Meanwhile, developers of The Rivers Casino in Schenectady got the green light early in February to move waterfront devleopment forward when the Schenectady City Council adjusted zoning laws. Mayor Gary McCarthy told NewsChannel 13:  "I’m glad that it passed. We want the project to move ahead and these are technical adjustments to facilitate what is a great economic project within the city of Schenectady."

David Buicko, CEO of the Galesi Group, says site preparation is continuing, as planned: "With the depth of the remediation as well as the demolition of foundations and site work, it's taking a little longer than we had hoped but we are making progress.”

There are also still hopes for the pass-over Nevele site in the Catskills. The group looking for a full-scale casino license at the Ulster County site say they have asked the Cuomo administration for support for legislation to operate 750 video lottery terminals at the proposed $100 million resort. It would include a sports complex with an indoor aquatics and fields.

Developers say the VLTs would make the resort viable year-round, similar to the setup at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

In December, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein told WAMC he wished the Gaming Commission would reconsider issuing the Catskills just one license.  "I think it's critically important that we take every step possible in making sure that people understand that the Nevele project would provide real benefit not just to Ulster County, but to the entire Hudson Valley and ultimately all of New York State. We understand the work of the commission is not an easy one. There's a great deal of pressure being placed I'm sure upon their decision-making process all the way through this. But the reality is, these are tough choices, there's a limited number of licenses, it's a huge state and it's a very big issue to many communities."

The Cuomo administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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