State clarifies casino 'clock' fair..............maybe.......good for NYNY stock ............ not
Published: 2:00 AM - 05/17/14
The door to an Orange County casino just opened a little wider.
Casino applicants in Sullivan and Ulster had assumed the clock for the 24-month deadline to build would start ticking in the fall, when the state said it will choose the projects.
Since most of those projects are well on their way to finishing their environmental reviews (SEQRA) and can start building immediately, that was considered a big plus — especially since one of the criteria for selection is "the fastest time to completion of the full gaming facility."
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But in the most recent round of answers to applicant questions, the state seemed to give the newer projects in Orange more time to land one of the up to two casino slots possible in the Hudson Valley/Catskills. It said the two-year building clock will actually start ticking once the environmental reviews are complete.
Thus, the state could select the project in the fall and give those Orange County projects a chance to complete the environmental review before they start building.
Here's what the state just said:
"The award of the license by the Commission will occur after the requirements of SEQRA have been satisfied "». The time to open that is set forth in statute runs from the commission's award of a license, which will occur consistent with SEQRA requirement."
Still, the state again stressed that "speed to market is a factor in the board's evaluation."
A SEQRA review could take "two years and sometimes longer to complete," according to Mark Izeman, senior attorney for one of the nation's leading environmental organizations, the National Resources Defense Council.
This is why the two Sullivan County casino contenders, who both want to build at different parts of the old Concord resort and have virtually completed all of their environmental reviews, seized on their advantage over their Orange competitors.
"We will be one of the few, and perhaps only, projects that can begin construction immediately," said Charlie Degliomini, executive vice president of Empire Resorts. "We are confident this will be very well received as our application is being considered by the Facility Location Board."
Louis Cappelli, who also wants to build at the Concord, still feels "No Orange County casino can meet the (speed to market) criteria."
A spokesman for the state Gaming Commission would only say, "We can't speculate when the licenses will be issued."
But the only Orange County contender replying to a request for comment stressed its ability to build quickly.
"Ultimately, speed to market has been clearly defined as a critical component (of the evaluation process), so we're moving full-steam ahead," said Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing for Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, which wants to build on Route 17K in Newburgh. She also seemed to prepare for the possibility that the state will choose one contender in Sullivan or Ulster that can build immediately — and wait for another in Orange.
"One of the other key components is the ability to complement Sullivan County, rather than compete with it, and our location (off Route 84 and the New York State Thruway) allows us to do that."
OK. So now, it is crystal clear that the state DESIRES to award a casino license in Orange County. Sure, "selection" and "award" technically do not happen on the same day, but its' pretty obvious that that the consultants are using the language to accommodate an Orange County Casino. They are interpreting the language as broadly as they possibly can too accommodate projects that are late to the game (which is Orange County).
I still think its 50-50 at this point whether Empire will submit a proposal with EPR. Anyone that has the inside edge on information could possibly make a killing with options if they know if EPT is talking with other potential operators.