David Giacalone, who has led a group opposing a proposed casino in Schenectady, sent a letter to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Friday saying that a coalition of entertainment venues trying to reach agreements with casino operators is violating antitrust laws.
More than a dozen arts venues in upstate New York are working to sign agreements with developers proposing casinos in the Capital Region, Catskills and Southern Tier. The agreements will ensure the casinos don’t compete with their operations. Giacalone, a Stockade resident, believes their requests are violating antitrust laws.
The Upstate Theater Coalition For A Fair Game, led by Proctors CEO Philip Morris, is asking casino operators to sign an agreement that would provide the venues with a percentage of the casino’s gaming revenues, along with additional requests to support their performances.
According to documents obtained by The Daily Gazette, the coalition is looking to receive a quarterly payment of one half of 1 percent of net gaming revenues. None of the operators proposing a casino in the region had signed an agreement with Fair Game as of Thursday.
Giacalone’s letter to Schneiderman states, “Fair Game is taking advantage of the casino siting process, with its criteria concerning partnerships with affected local entertainment venues, to create collective action among the largest theater venues in the state that pressures casino applicants — major competitors with such entertainment venues — into accepting a stringent uniform set of restrictions and financial obligations in order to demonstrate local support in the application process, with its very tight and imminent deadlines.”
Applications for a casino license are due by 4 p.m. Monday. Would-be operators pitching sites in Amsterdam, Cobleskill, East Greenbush, Rensselaer and Schenectady are expected to submit their applications by the deadline.
Backers of a proposed casino project in East Greenbush do not plan to sign an agreement with Fair Game, but the other four site operators were negotiating with the coalition to try to strike a deal by Monday.
Contracts, agreements or understandings with local entertainment venues that may be affected by a casino are required in the casino application. Fair Game is made up of 13 arts venues, with five located in the Capital Region.