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What you need to know for 01/19/2018

Schenectady casino proposal unveiled

Schenectady casino proposal unveiled

The Galesi Group and Rush Street Gaming of Chicago are partnering with plans to build a full-scale c
Schenectady casino proposal unveiled
Surrounded by supporters from the city and county government, the community and local businesses, Neil Bluhm, Chairman of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, joined Galesi Group COO David Buicko, at podium, to unveil plans for Rivers Casino at Mohawk Har...
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Also online

Gaming board rejects measures of local support. Click HERE.

At a glance

A look at other casino proposals in the Capital Region:


Backers: Flaum Management and Global Gaming Solutions/Chickasaw Nation

Price tag: $300 million to $400 million

Location: Off Exit 23 of the Thruway on Noonan Lane

East Greenbush

Backers: Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Churchill Downs

Price tag: $300 million

Location: Thompson Hill, adjacent to Route 4, off exits 8 and 9 of I-90

Montgomery County

Backers: Private equity management firm and casino operator Clairvest

Price tag: Unknown

Location: 520 acres of farmland in the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam off Exit 27 of the Thruway

Schoharie County

Backers: Development company Howe Caves LLC

Price tag: Unknown

Location: 330-acre section of Howe Caverns in the town of Cobleskill

The Galesi Group and Rush Street Gaming of Chicago are partnering with plans to build a full-scale casino at the former American Locomotive Co. site in Schenectady.

Rush Street Gaming signed on to operate the proposed 25-acre gaming facility at Galesi Group’s $150 million riverfront development between Erie Boulevard and the Mohawk River.

“This is Schenectady’s time. This is an economic engine that is going to support the next 50 to 100 years,” Buicko said during a news conference Tuesday at Proctors’ GE Theatre. “Simply put, this casino project can be a game changer for the city and the county of Schenectady.”

The proposed casino, called the Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor, would be similar to the casino Rush Street Gaming operates in Pittsburgh. That casino — also called Rivers Casino — has nearly 3,000 slot machines, 86 table games and a live poker room. It employs 1,800 and generates about $175 million annually for Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Pennsylvania.

Buicko said the casino project is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs. But many questions were left unanswered, including the casino’s exact price tag, the number of permanent jobs and the amount of money that would be generated for the city and the county.

The entire project is expected to cost more than $300 million, said Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rush Street Gaming. The minimum investment for a casino in the Capital Region is $182.25 million.

Bluhm and Buicko said they plan to release more details about the project next month. Applications are due June 30. If awarded a casino license, Bluhm said he expects to have the facility up and running two years later.

“We will make the Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor a reality,” Bluhm said. “I am excited to be working with the Galesi Group. We have a great project here to take an old site … and improve it and create economic benefits, jobs and tax revenues. I think it will be a home run all around.”

The Rivers Casino in Schenectady would include full table and slot gaming, restaurants, a riverfront patio area and parking garage. Bluhm said the casino would not compete with Schenectady’s entertainment venues.

Proctors CEO Philip Morris said he plans to be involved with the project as it develops and believes a casino in Schenectady would be a great way to attract more visitors to the area.

Rush Street Gaming plans to work with Proctors and the Upstate Theatre Coalition for a Fair Game to support the city’s arts and culture. The operator is also looking to partner with Schenectady County Community College’s gaming program to provide internships and jobs for students.

Aside from a casino, Galesi Group’s riverfront revitalization proposal also includes a 124-room hotel and banquet facility, 304 apartment units and a supermarket. Previously, Buicko was targeting a film studio for the site but did not receive adequate funding from the state for California-based Pacifica Ventures to build a $69 million studio.

But he did receive $5 million as part of the Regional Economic Development Council awards last year for the brownfield development. According to the state Gaming Commission, state and local incentives cannot be used to meet the minimum capital investment of $182.25 million.

The brownfield site had already met requirements under the state Environmental Quality Review Act in 2010. The Gaming Commission said Tuesday a casino license would not be awarded to sites until those requirements are satisfied.

But the City Council still needs to pass a resolution of support for the project. The proposal has received some local support from Mayor Gary McCarthy and County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski.

“Rush Street Gaming is a world-class company, and they impressed us immediately with their absolute dedication to getting things done right,” McCarthy said. “Their other properties demonstrate they are committed to running first-class, upscale and right-sized casinos.”

Details of proposed casinos in Albany and East Greenbush have already been released. In Albany, Rochester-based Flaum Management and Global Gaming Solutions of the Chickasaw Nation are pursuing a $300 million casino, resort-style hotel and indoor water park off Exit 23 of the Thruway.

Also, operators of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway abandoned their plans for a casino in Saratoga Springs after failing to receive local support and are now teaming up with Churchill Downs of Kentucky to push for a casino in East Greenbush at Thompson Hill.

Under the NY Gaming Economic Development Act, four full-scale casinos will be established in three upstate New York regions — the Capital Region, Catskills and Southern Tier. Licenses will be awarded to the sites chosen by the Gaming Facility Location Board in the fall.

Two development groups have dropped out of the running to build a casino in upstate New York.

Pinnacle Entertainment had been looking at potential casino sites in the Albany region. Rolling Hills Entertainment LLC also expressed interest in one of the four casino licenses set to be awarded, but had not announced any details about its proposal. Both groups will receive a refund of their $1 million casino application fee.

The withdrawals were announced Tuesday. The number of casino proposals now stands at 20.

“We want to take this 60-acre waterfront and turn it into a vibrant, productive destination not only for today, but for future generations,” Buicko said of the Schenectady site. “Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor will bring millions of new visitors to Schenectady.”

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