- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The winning proposals for casinos in upstate New York are set to be announced Wednesday, ending a competition among 16 developers and job-hungry communities for up to four available casino licenses.

Officials involved in the decision have promised that it will be based on the merits of the proposals - and not Albany politics. Nevertheless, casino license bidders and their supporters have spent millions on lobbying and campaign contributions in the last two years.

Voters last year authorized up to four casinos to be divided among three upstate regions: the Albany-Saratoga area, the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region and the Catskills and mid-Hudson Valley.

The state’s Gaming Facility Location Board plans to announce its decisions Wednesday afternoon in Albany. Members of the panel have said they plan to base their decision on the strength of the proposals and their potential economic impact to the surrounding communities. In the past several months the board has pored over 75,000 pages of application materials, heard from more than 400 people during public comment sessions and received more than 3,000 written comments.

Bidders for the licenses and their allies spent more than $11 million on lobbying and campaign donations in 2012 and 2013, according to an analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group. Reports for 2014 are incomplete, but show millions more in lobbying expenses. Lobbying efforts in cities of less than 50,000 people aren’t counted as they are exempt from state reporting rules.

The law authorizing the casinos expressly prohibits bidders from lobbying the location board, said Lee Park, a spokesman for the state’s Gaming Commission - which oversees the location board.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that he is staying out of the decision.

“We set up the process that has a separate board making the decision,” Cuomo told reporters last week. “They should just do their job and go through the law and pick the best operators.”

The state’s move to expand its gambling offerings attracted a mix of big names like Genting, Mohegan Sun, Hard Rock and Caesars as well as local developers like the Walsh family, who hope to build the Traditions Casino and Resort near Binghamton, or the owners of Howe Caverns, who want to add a casino at the site of a Schoharie County show cave.

The board’s decision isn’t the final step. Background checks and environmental reviews will be completed, and the licenses must be formally awarded by the state’s Gaming Commission. There’s also the threat of lawsuits from local opponents concerned about traffic, environmental effects, zoning and the effects of expanded gambling.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide