- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Development groups looking to build a casino in upstate New York gathered Wednesday for a mandatory meeting where state gambling regulators intended to answer questions about a selection process expected to play out over the next several months.

The conference brought together lawyers, publicists, architects and others working for groups applying to build one of the four casinos authorized for the Catskills, the Albany-Saratoga area or the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region. No more than two casinos may be located in any single region.

Wednesday’s gathering, the largest meeting of casino developers so far, gave the interested parties a chance to ask questions about the ethical, financial and procedural rules governing the casino license application process.

Regulators asked developers not to ask questions that promoted their own proposal or denigrated those of their competitors. But that didn’t stop many casino contenders from discussing the merits of their proposals before and after the hour-long meeting.

“We have the best proposal,” said James Wilmot of Wilmorite Inc., a Rochester-based real estate development firm that’s proposing a $350 million casino and resort in Tyre in the Southern Tier. Two other groups - Traditions at the Glen resort and conference center and Tioga Downs Casino and racetrack - are also vying to build a casino in the region.

With their proximity to New York City, the Catskills and mid-Hudson Valley have attracted the most interest, with at least 10 development groups proposing casinos.

“It’s an indication that of the four casinos, two should definitely go in that region,” said state Sen. John Bonacic, a Republican who lives in Orange County and chairs the Senate’s gambling committee.

Last week developers submitted casino license application fees of $1 million each for 22 different projects. Final applications are due by the end of June; developers who back out before the deadline will have their application fees returned.

A panel appointed by the state’s Gaming Commission is expected to pick the winning proposals this fall.

In early May, the selection panel is expected to announce the minimum investment amount the state will require from potential casino developers.