The wait is over for three upstate New York casino projects that were finally given the official green light from state gambling regulators.
State casino licenses are expected to be awarded to the Lago Resort and Casino in the Finger Lakes town of Tyre, Montreign Resort Casino in the Catskills, and the Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady. The NYS Gaming Commission will be meeting on Monday in New York City. Formal licensure allows the construction and financing of the projects to move forward, while some preliminary work has already begun. Operations are expected to be up and running within two years.
Meanwhile, opponents of Thomas Wilmot’s proposed Lago casino, which would be located within 50 miles of downtown Syracuse, continue their legal efforts in an attempt to derail the $425 million project. On Friday, Casino Free Tyre spokesperson Desiree Dawley said, “It remains undisputed that Tyre town officials colluded with a private real estate mogul, and together they ran roughshod over our state’s environmental laws. The Gaming Commission would be doing the state a disservice and abdicating its responsibilities if approves a license while courts are reviewing if environmental laws were followed as a part of Lago’s application process,” according to the Associated Press.
A year ago the proposals were endorsed by the state Gaming Facility Location Board. In the interim, background checks have been conducted and the final details of all three projects have been reviewed by the state. Some concerns regarding the time it took for finalization of the licenses have been expressed by some local officials. Noting that in some cases the licensure process takes years to complete, state officials urged patience. That sentiment was reiterated in a letter this week written by the commission’s executive director Robert Williams, who assured a Catskills county official who wanted to know the reason for the delay. Casino developers have not indicated publically that the project’s timeframe is an issue for them. Spokesman for Lago, Steven Greenberg, said that they look forward to the meeting with the Gaming Commission.
Since approval in 2014 the Lago project has been plagued by opponents including community members and other gaming establishments in the area such as the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Casino and Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, which are both within 80 miles of the Lago project. Opponents disapprove of a new gaming destination that, according to them, will cannibalize their businesses, harm local economies and create significant environmental impacts. Lago is expected to open by early 2017.
Tioga Downs is expected to be issued the fourth casino license in 2016. The slot parlor and horse track in the Southern Tier has plans for expansion into a full Vegas-style gambling facility.