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What you need to know for 01/17/2017

State Gaming Commission picks firm to aid with casino licensing process


State Gaming Commission picks firm to aid with casino licensing process

The state Gaming Commission’s facility location board has selected the Ohio-based law firm of Taft S

The state Gaming Commission’s facility location board has selected the Ohio-based law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister to help guide it through the casino licensing process expected to get under way shortly.

The 400-member law firm was selected from four proposals that were submitted to the state shortly after voters approved a measure to build up to four casinos with live table games in three regions around upstate New York. As consultant, the law firm will provide facility location board members with analysis of the gaming industry and assist them with the comprehensive review of applications.

Taft will be paid a fixed rate of $375,000 to assist the board in developing the request for applications and a tool to evaluate proposals. In addition, the company will receive an estimated $367,170 for guiding the board through all the applications received and approximately $108,850 for hourly work that may arise after licenses are awarded.

The request for applications was already drafted by commission staff and is now being tweaked by the facility location board. Lee Park, a spokesman for the commission, said the document will be released by Monday at the latest, keeping with the time frame laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year.

“We are still sticking to the timeline,” he said Monday.

The facility location board, however, is still short two of its five members. Park said the appointment of Paul Francis, Stuart Rabinowitz and Bill Thompson last week was enough for the board to start work on the request for applications.

The draft request for applications was largely laid out in the law passed by state legislators last year. The location board, however, still needs to determine several critical points, including the licensing fees, the minimum capital investment required, and determining how local support by prospective host communities will be gauged.

Taft was selected because of the firm’s “extensive experience” in drafting licensing application requests and the protocols for casino development projects, gaming commission officials said. The firm has already worked with Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Chicago, Detroit and Massachusetts on gaming matters.

Earlier this year, Taft merged with the Chicago-based practice of Shefsky & Froelich. Shefsky represented Springfield, Mass., during that city’s search for a casino operator and was a registered lobbyist representing several major casinos in Illinois, including MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming.

Taft has already subcontracted with several other firms to assist during the process. These companies include financial advisory firm Christiansen Capital Advisors, investment bank Houlihan Lokey and gaming facility consultant Macomber International.

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