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Casino adviser to cost state $4.89M

Casino adviser to cost state $4.89M

The law firm contracted to review New York’s 16 casino applications is being paid nearly $5 million
Casino adviser to cost state $4.89M
State gaming employees move and check in boxes of licence applications in the NYS Lottery Building in Schenectady in this June photo.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

The law firm contracted to review New York’s 16 casino applications is being paid nearly $5 million for its services, according to documents with the state Comptroller’s Office.

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, which has an office in Chicago, has a $4.89 million contract with the state Gaming Commission for gaming advisory services. The firm has subcontracts with three companies to assist in the project.

Taft’s contract was approved this past March and runs through March 2015. The firm, according to the contract, is providing “gaming advisory services in relation to the selection of applicants to develop and operate a casino.”

Last month, a $2.4 million payment was approved by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli as part of the contract, according to a news release from DiNapoli’s office on Tuesday. Total spending to date is about $4.5 million.

The firm is providing analysis of the gaming industry and assisting the Gaming Facility Location Board with the review of the applications and evaluation of the applicants.

The Gaming Commission chose Taft as a consultant in March after issuing a request for proposals last November. Four other firms also submitted proposals for the job.

Taft subcontracted with financial advisory firm Christiansen Capital Advisors, investment bank Houlihan Lokey and gaming facility consultant Macomber International Inc.

Those firms are conducting revenue feasibility studies and evaluating the applicants’ financial viability, market studies and cost projections. The firms are also looking into the sustainability of each proposal.

The applicants were required to pay the Gaming Commission a $1 million fee when they submitted their proposals. That money is going toward the costs incurred for the services used to screen the applicants.

The Gaming Facility Location Board has been meeting behind closed doors with consultants to discuss the financial history of the applicants. The board is scheduled to meet again Friday at Hofstra University in executive session to continue its discussions. The board previously met Oct. 20 and Nov. 10.

In a letter released Tuesday, board Chairman Kevin Law said the five-member board, handpicked by the Gaming Commission, will announce its recommendations for casino locations during its next meeting after Friday’s meeting.

Gaming Commission spokesman Lee Park said that meeting will be sometime in December and will be open to the public. At that time, the board will recommend up to four sites total in the three areas: the Capital Region; Catskills/Hudson Valley; and Finger Lakes/Southern Tier.

After the board recommends sites for casinos, the Gaming Commission will provide the operators with casino licenses once the developers obtain the required approvals and permits for construction.

The casinos are required to be up and running within two years of the start of construction, according to the Upstate NY Gaming and Economic Development Act.

Developers are proposing casinos at four locations in the Capital Region — Howe Caverns in Cobleksill, Thompson Hill in East Greenbush, de Laet’s Landing in Rensselaer and the former Alco site in Schenectady. The Capital Region is expected to receive one casino license, with two licenses possibly going to the Hudson Valley/Catskills region.

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