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Schenectady casino build ahead of schedule

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Schenectady casino build ahead of schedule

The Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor will be the first full-scale casino in upstate New York
Schenectady casino build ahead of schedule
Members of the NYS Gaming Commission took a tour of the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor on Monday July 25, 2016.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

The Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor will be the first full-scale casino to open in upstate New York, according to members of the state Gaming Commission.

Three members of the Gaming Commission visited the Mohawk Harbor site in Schenectady on Monday to take a look at the progress of construction on the casino, which Rush Street Gaming CEO Greg Carlin says is ahead of schedule.

The $330 million casino is going up fast, with the adjacent parking garage also taking shape. Gaming Commission member John Poklemba said the commission, which awarded licenses to three upstate casinos in December, is pleased with the project.

“They’re very far along,” Poklemba told the media alongside commissioners Peter Moschetti Jr. and Barry Sample as construction crews worked in the background. “We’re quite pleased with the progress that’s being made. As you know, this is all private investment. There’s not one state tax dollar being spent here.”

Carlin and Mary Cheeks, who will serve as the general manager of the Rivers Casino, joined the commissioners on site. Carlin said the mild winter put construction crews ahead of schedule.

Cheeks, who currently serves as chief financial officer of Rush Street’s Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, recently moved to Schenectady as the Chicago-based operator prepares to hire employees.

She said dealer school training will launch at the beginning of October and hiring for hundreds of positions would begin after that. The Rivers Casino posted dozens of job descriptions and is accepting resumes for some positions online at www.riverscasinoandresort.com.

“After the dealer school, we’ll start rolling out all of our training,” Cheeks said. “Our strategy is to train as many people as we can, and then from there start the hiring process out of training of our overall applicants.”

Poklemba said the Gaming Commission is continuing to work on detailed regulations for the new casinos, which include rules about games, security and vendors.

“The regulations are extremely detailed,” he said. “Just about every aspect of the activity will be very well-regulated and then very well-monitored once the casino is actually operating. We believe we’ve taken the best aspects from every state that is now regulating the industry and included that in our regulations.”

Poklemba said the commissioners also recently toured the site of the future Montreign Resort Casino in Thompson, Sullivan County. He said that project is far along but would take longer to build because of its size.

He said the commission is still working on the application to convert Tioga Downs in Nichols, Tioga County, from a racino to a full-scale casino. The del Lago Resort and Casino is also being built in Tyre, Seneca County.

The Rivers Casino is expected to employ 1,200 and open in March. It will house 1,150 slot machines, 63 table games and 16 poker tables. The casino will have an adjacent 163-room hotel.

Rotterdam developer the Galesi Group is also developing the 60-acre brownfield off Erie Boulevard, known as the old Alco site, with a 206-unit apartment building, 15-unit townhouse building, 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, office and retail buildings, a 50-boat-slip harbor, and biking and walking paths.

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