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Sullivan chair backs Cuomo’s casino plan

By Fritz Mayer
May 15, 2013

The chair of the Sullivan County Legislature says he is pleased with Governor Cuomo’s plan that would bring a casino to the county. On May 12, Scott Samuelson issued a press release saying, “While I am still evaluating the details of the governor’s proposal, clearly this presents an opportunity for a real discussion and debate to occur ... I remain hopeful that Sullivan County will benefit greatly from this endeavor.”

Legislator Ira Steingart was also pleased. He said, “We feel that we are well positioned to serve as a host community, and it is imperative that Sullivan County be selected in this process. It is time for casinos to become a reality in Sullivan County.”

On May 9, Cuomo released a plan that would divide most of the state outside of the New York City metropolitan area into six regions, and the regions would bid for three initial casinos. He also said the selection process for siting the casinos would be non-political and done by a special committee. But the locations would not be chosen before the public referendum in November in which voters will decide whether or not Class III casinos should be allowed to operate in the state.

Senator John Bonacic, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, has different goals than those of Cuomo. He would like to see three casinos in the Catskills instead of just one. Also, in the past he has said the locations of the proposed casinos should be made known to the public before the November vote.

He said in a statement, “This is an evolving process. If the governor gets this done, he will correctly be able to claim he created thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of jobs in upstate New York. If however, the referendum is so poorly defined that voters are left with more questions than answers, I am concerned they will vote no. In blackjack, you want as many cards as possible without “busting”—going over 21. Here though, it is too little of something—too little information—that could make the plan a bust.”

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, on the other hand, said that many of the criteria set out by Cuomo seem to be already met by the EPR/Empire Resorts project at the site of the former Concord Hotel, in which a $200 million investment has already been made.