NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — High hopes and high anxiety are being felt as developers proposing 20 luxury resort casinos in New York battle it out for the four licenses that will be granted.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, competition is fierce, especially in the Catskills region.
Casinos are a jackpot of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to begin with. And for the Catskills, a chance to reclaim the glory days of the old lavish resort hotels.
The rolling majestic beauty of the Catkills is scarred with decrepit remnants of past glory — places like the Concord Resort and famed Grossinger’s Hotel now shuttered.
While the buildings still stand, the crowds and jobs they supported are long gone.
Now, four casinos are coming to three upstate regions.
It has been predicted that the Catskills will get two of those casinos, Aiello reported.
Foxwoods wants to build at Grossinger’s.
At the Concord, two different developers want to create big casino resorts.
There’s another proposal at the old Nevele property in Ulster County.
But in the struggling Catskill towns, hope is mixing with anxiety.
“My fear is they may not come here. That’s my greatest fear,” said Sullivan County resident Mike Gastwirth.
The Catskills region includes Orange County, where there are five casino proposals, including one on the Sterling Forest property, just 45 miles from Times Square.
A partnership including Caesars proposed a casino resort adjacent to the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlet and the Harriman Metro-North station.
“History shows that people will go to the most convenient casino,” said gaming consultant John Sabini.
Sabini said licensing a casino in Orange County could doom casinos further north.
Lenders would be wary of financing a Catskills casino with a competitor so much closer to New York City.
The Cuomo administration wants the casinos up and running quickly — in two or three years — which gives the Sullivan County properties an edge.
They already have environmental reviews in hand, while the Orange County properties, “they don’t have environmental review, they don’t have zoning review. All that stuff takes time,” said Sabini.
A spokesman for Caesars disputes that, claiming its property near Woodbury faces no significant zoning hurdles and has already been subject to an environmental impact review.
“I’m very hopeful two casinos are going to land right in Sullivan County where I think they belong,” said Sullivan County resident Les Kristt.
New York is looking to maximize casino tax revenue, boost job creation and foster economic development.
Each developer will argue why their proposal is solid on all three fronts.
The state will review proposals and announce the winners later this summer.
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