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What you need to know for 04/26/2017

Montgomery County casino developer again seeking breaks

Montgomery County casino developer again seeking breaks

Once again the development team behind a proposed casino in Montgomery County is asking the state Ga

Once again the development team behind a proposed casino in Montgomery County is asking the state Gaming Commission’s casino siting board for a helping hand to move forward with its plans.

On June 30, Clairvest Group Inc. and Great Canadian Gaming Corp., the potential developer and operator of a casino that would straddle the city of Amsterdam and the town of Florida, submitted an incomplete application. And now they are asking the board for a 60-day extension to complete it.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said the development team submitted a majority of the application but is asking for more time to submit a completed application. He said he is not sure what parts of the application have yet to be filled out.

In addition, the development team is urging the board to work with it to explore any options that would make the project financially feasible.

Initially, the developer and operator said they needed the board to alter the application guidelines. They asked for the casino licensing fee to be slashed in half, from $50 million to $25 million, and to be given a 60-day extension of the application deadline. The team promised if awarded a license to pay an increased gaming tax rate on slot machines — 48 percent instead of 45 percent — to make up in the long run the money not paid to the state immediately.

They had said they needed the licensing fee to be reduced because a casino in Montgomery County would not be able to generate the same amount of revenue as a gambling hall in Albany or any other more densely populated areas in the Capital Region. They said they wanted to be treated more like other small counties in the Southern Tier, where the licensing fee is only $35 million.

But the siting board denied both requests, saying it would not be fair to amend the application process at the request of one bidder.

On Tuesday, the board released executive summaries of all 17 casino applications. The summary for the Montgomery County proposal reads: “We understand that this option is not acceptable to the board or commission. Rather than drop out as a result, the FAC [Florida Acquisition Corp.], at the urging of the local community, continues to work with the County of Montgomery to find a solution.

“Once a solution to the license fee challenge is found ... the applicant will work diligently to add content to this RFA response such that within 60 days of the confirmation, the RFA response will be fully complete and compliant.”

Ossenfort said the Gaming Commission must realize the “economics are what the economics are” in Montgomery County, and he hopes they can find a way to come to an agreement. He added that if an agreement can’t be reached, the plans will not move forward.

“We are really trying to work with the Gaming Commission on this,” he said. “The solution we provided originally was not acceptable, so now the team is open to doing anything that would allow the project to move forward.”

The three-phase project, which would sit on 512 acres of farmland, would include a gambling hall with 1,250 slot machines and 40 tables, two 18-hole golf courses, a hotel, a farmers market and 200 full-time residential units. The developers said the casino would create 450 construction jobs and 850 permanent jobs.

Theirs is one of five proposals competing in the Capital Region for at least one casino license. A total of four licenses are expected to be awarded in the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier sometime in early fall.

“Is this a slam dunk? Not by any means,” Ossenfort said. “But we are trying to put our best foot forward.”

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