SCHENECTADY — With the creation of three more New York casinos potentially on the horizon, state gambling regulators sought and received input on the issue: Thirty organizations, companies and people submitted comment.
New York voters in 2013 approved licensing of up to seven casinos off Indian land. The first four would be upstate, and no licenses downstate would be issued downstate until at least seven years after the first was issued upstate, to give the upstate casinos a chance to establish themselves.
The seven-year mark is in early 2023. The process of granting additional licenses beyond the first four would begin well before that, however, because of the length of time it would take. The state Gaming Commission’s request for information is an early part of the process.
Among those responding were several casino operators, including Rush Street Gaming, the Illinois company that owns Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady as well as casinos in other states.
Neil Bluhm and Greg Carlin, chairman and CEO respectively of Rush Street, said they enthusiastically support issuance of the three downstate casino licenses and said the downstate market could easily accommodate all three.
They asked for Rush Street to have the opportunity to win one of the licenses, and held up the Schenectady casino as a model of a successful project. Rivers has had a major economic impact and has a workforce of nearly 1,000 that is 42% minority and 42% female, they said.
“Rush Street Gaming is ready and equipped to bring the same collaborative approach to the development of a Downstate gaming facility that we used to transform a former brownfield site in the city of Schenectady into a thriving economic engine and a flourishing riverfront destination,” Rush Street’s submission read.
Also submitting comment from Schenectady was Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors, writing on behalf of the Upstate Theater Coalition for a Fairgame.
When the first four casinos were being set up in New York state, the coalition was formed to protect performing arts venues from the potentially strong and/or unfair competition that would arise if the casinos added large-scale performance space.
The coalition has enjoyed good relations with the casinos in the nearly five years since then, Morris wrote, and the harm to theaters seen in states such as Connecticut and New Jersey did not occur in New York.
“We urge the commission to continue to require consideration of local cultural impacts as part of the licensing process,” Morris wrote.