The proposed casino for Schenectady has widespread support among business and civic leaders, but there is still a key detail to be resolved.
With the June 30 application deadline approaching, there is no fair gaming agreement with a coalition of area entertainment venues — theaters and the like that could be affected, positively and negatively, by the presence of a proposed casino at the former American Locomotive Co. site on Erie Boulevard.
Proctors CEO Philip Morris, part of Upstate Theater Coalition for a Fair Game, said his support for the Schenectady casino is contingent upon a ratified agreement with casino operator Rush Street Gaming — an agreement all sides agree should happen, but one that hasn’t been signed yet.
“Until we come to an agreement, [support] is an open question,” Morris said more than a week ago. “Assuming we get one, there will be a good relationship between the facility and the gamers and Proctors. Until that happens, I’m in wait mode. We’re not there yet.”
On Wednesday he sounded more optimistic. “I am, but it is not done yet,” Morris said. “I hope we are close on Rush.
“It’s surprising it hasn’t been done yet,” Morris said, adding he is not sure why it hasn’t been completed.
Rush Street Gaming CEO Greg Carlin said recently a deal will be done.
“We want to support the arts in Schenectady. We want to be good corporate citizens,” he said. “We’re not competing. We’re in a different business.”
The new casino will not have a theater.
“If I don’t have to build a theater, handle the bookings, the shows, everything, if you already have the infrastructure, we’d rather leverage what you have,” Carlin said. “We’d rather collaborate with Proctors.”
That collaboration could include free Proctors tickets for high-end casino customers, as well as a trolley running to Proctors.
Charles Steiner, president and CEO of The Chamber of Schenectady County, said his group’s full-throated support for the casino has always been predicated on a fair gaming agreement — which he believes will be forthcoming before a final application is submitted.
“I don’t know the mechanics of what has been signed and hasn’t been signed. I can only go by the public statements: They indicated they will comply with the fair game coalitions’ conditions,” Steiner said. “We support the Fair Game Coalition, and our expectation is it will be signed. It is a critically important piece.”
Morris said his coalition representing 12 venues before 18 regional casino applicants has one deal in place with one proposed Catskill casino, while two others there are close. He said agreements are close with two proposals in the Southern Tier, as well as with the operators of proposed casinos in Schenectady and Rensselaer.
In order to beat the application deadline, Morris said agreements will have to be in place by Friday, June 27. He said it’s in the best interests of the those vying for a casino to have an accord in place before the state reviews applications.
“I think a lot of these applications are going to be closely scored,” he said. “If someone decides we’re irrelevant, that is their decision, and they will have to explain that to the state.”