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NYS Gaming Commission Meets, Tours Rivers Casino Site

The New York State Gaming Commission met Monday afternoon in Schenectady. They discussed horse racing and casino gambling before heading off to tour the under-construction Rivers Casino.

During a regularly scheduled meeting, board members discussed various rules and regulations pertaining to horse racing. One will allow topical DMSO, an anti-inflammatory drug, to be applied to a horse on race day. A ban remains on giving DMSO orally or intravenously in the 48 hours leading up to a race.

Talk at the brief meeting turned to gambling and New York's burgeoning casino industry:  Lago, Montreign and Rivers all are on or ahead of construction schedules. Gaming rules on standards for testing and certifying video lottery gaming equipment were approved. Requirements for licensing gaming employees and vendors were clarified and simplified in a move to help people easier comprehend how those rules work.

When the meeting adjourned, gaming commission members hopped aboard a CDTA bus to tour the Rivers construction site.  Commission member John Poklemba:   "We're here to take a look at the project, see how things are going, and to make sure that everyone here is living up to their commitment."

Greg Karlin is the CEO of Rush Gaming:  "You know we had a very mild winter up here as all you guys know, and that really helped as far as our schedule. We're a little bit ahead in our construction schedule and things are going well, so we're excited to take the tour today."

The media was not invited to join the tour, so a press conference was held on the grounds outside one of the construction trailers. Poklemba says regulations for the casino have been established and all games will be intently overseen.  "We have our commission counsel here who has drafted the regulations. We've looked at regulations from every other state in the country. And we've proposed theme everything from security to the types of games and how the games are going to be conducted. So the regulations are extremely detailed. After we've gotten the comments from everyone who is concerned we have promulgated final regulations. So just about every aspect of the activity will be very well regulated and then very well monitored, once the casino is actually operating."

He added the board is pleased with the progress on casinos throughout the state.  "We also went to see the operation at Montreign in Monticello in Sullivan County. And again, they're very far along, extensive renovations being done, tremendous amount of people working and being employed and on-schedule to finish the project. As you know, it's a bigger project down in Sullivan County, so it's gonna take longer."

Back along the Mohawk River, as construction nears the end at Rivers, General Manager Mary Cheeks told reporters new employees will be sent to dealer school for training.  "...which we anticipate starting on October 3rd. So, after the dealer school's on the way, we'll start rolling out all of our training. And our strategy is to train as many people as we can. And from there start the hiring process."

Cheeks expects just over a hundred jobs will open initially. The casino is anticipating opening in early 2017.

Media members were promised they'd get their own tour in the near future.

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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