New York panel starts seeking casino applications

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Applicants for the four upstate New York casino licenses must provide resolutions of support from local lawmakers and be able to pay licensing fees that will run as high as $70 million, state gambling regulators said Monday.

The state Gaming Commission's casino siting board officially put out requests for applications for upstate casinos five months after voters approved a state constitutional amendment to allow Las Vegas-style casinos beyond Indian land.

The four casinos will be located in the Catskills, the Capital Region and Southern Tier/Finger Lakes regions, with one area getting two casinos. License fees will be on a sliding scale depending on the region and whether two casinos are sited in the same region. Licenses in Dutchess and Orange counties would be $70 million. The lowest possible license fee would be $20 million for a second casino in portions of the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes region.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed for casino expansion as a way to invigorate the upstate economy and the "request for applications" reflects that focus. The siting board is legally required to give economic activity and business development factors the most weight, 70 percent, when considering applications.

The request also details for the first time how applicants must demonstrate local support — a potentially tricky issue in areas like Saratoga Springs, where some residents do not want a casino. Each bidder must submit a resolution approved by the local legislative body indicating its support of the application. They also would have to show evidence of support from the likes of local businesses and community groups.

"Economic growth, good jobs and enhancement to the region and community are paramount to this effort and we look forward to seeing what bidders have to offer," said siting board member William Thompson.

Applications need to be in by June 30.

Regulators said applicants will have to provide market analyses, projected tax revenue and detailed explanations on how their resort would dovetail into regional economic development planning. They will have to assess impacts on local housing and describe how they would partner with other businesses.

Regulators said they will seek exhaustive information from applicants on their finances, background, ownership and legal history. They must share details of their resort plans down to parking infrastructure.

Around a dozen potential casino operators have expressed interest in putting up $1 million for a casino application. New York already has five Indian casinos and nine racinos with slot-like video lottery terminals, but interested developers believe there is room for growth.

Michael Treanor of Nevele Investors, a group that will bid to open a casino at the site of an old, closed Catskills hotel in Ellenville, said the exhaustive amount of information required was expected.

"It's going to be a busy 90 days," he joked.

The selections will be made by the fall

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