There are three remaining casino licenses to be awarded in the New York City metropolitan area. The timeline for the State’s awarding of these licenses is fast approaching and some Albany insiders speculate that the State may speed up the process to generate more revenue for Albany. Recently, James Allen, the Chairman and CEO or Hard Rock International outlined plans for a casino in New York City. Many in the gaming industry, have stated that New York City is one of the last and best untapped gaming markets in the world. This raises an important question, what will the impact be on Sullivan County and what should we be doing about it.
One can say that Sullivan County has grown its economy beyond casinos. But the truth of the matter is, Sullivan County has a lot invested Resorts World Catskills in terms of jobs and revenue received from the facility. We are at a critical juncture, and there should be an organized and concerted effort to get a piece of the New York City casino pie, which would further assist our local governments, economic development agencies and groups to further grow our economy.
The New York City casinos are coming – Yonkers (MGM), Aqueduct (Resorts World) and the third, probably to some other company, such as Hard Rock or Las Vegas Sands at some other NYC location. The vast sums of money will drive the deal; it always does. And these Facilities will generate hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. These will be massive facilities and will have an impact on the gaming market.
Resorts World Catskills, which has improved its operations over the last couple of years, will be significantly impacted whereas the other three upstate casinos will not. Those casinos in Schenectady, the Finger Lakes and Binghamton are too far away, but RW Catskills relies on the NYC metro market. The only logical course of action for Sullivan County is to push to be recognized when the negotiations are being conducted for the NYC casinos. We should ask for a place at the table.
The RW Catskills casino was located here, after decades of fighting for casinos, for economic development. It directly employs almost 1,500 people and has other economic impacts beyond the direct employment, such as the host fees paid to the Town of Thompson and Sullivan County.
We have many great things happening ln Sullivan County. We have many important new projects, but the RW Casino is a driver for a portion of our economic engine.
We need to fight for some type of compensation, which can take several forms. Not only monetary payments from the NYC casinos, but other assistance from the State in our tax structure, state mandates, infrastructure needs, and maybe moving the line to allow NYC first responders/firemen/police to live in Sullivan County.
The County should take steps towards this goal and not miss the opportunity. It is crystal clear we will be affected; Albany knows this, and we must push Albany to address it.