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Casino race is on

Jeff Kay, the chief operating officer of Muss Development, addresses the crowd in front of the company’s newly opened office in the ShopRite Plaza in Liberty. Local officials line the stage behind Kay.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
April 30, 2014

LIBERTY, NY — The Foxwoods/Muss Development team is just one of 12 different groups or organizations that have shelled out $1 million each for a chance at getting one of possibly two casino licenses that may be awarded in the Catskills/Hudson Valley region.

Seven of the projects are proposed to be located in Orange County, four in Sullivan and one in Ulster.

Foxwoods/Muss opened an office in the ShopRite Plaza in Liberty on April 23 and pledged a concerted effort at obtaining one of the much coveted licenses. The officials on hand at an event marking the opening suggested that Sullivan County was more deserving of a casino than Orange County because that’s what was intended by the legislation that allowed for the opening of the gaming operations.

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther said to the crowd, “Governor Cuomo looks at us so favorably, he came to Sullivan County to announce the passage of the legislation… the intent of the legislation was to bring it to an economically depressed area, and that’s what Sullivan County is. So we’re all going to work together to make sure that this happens for Sullivan County.”

Charlie Barbuti, supervisor of the Town of Liberty, echoed that in his remarks, and urged the people in the crowd to take action. He said, “Write a letter, sign a petition, let the [site selection committee] know that we’re going to hold their feet to the fire. They said this is to help upstate New York development; it’s for upstate job creation. And that’s what we are, we’re upstate. Like Aileen said, nobody has more economic need than we do, and that’s what it was designed for.”

County chairman Scott Samuelson said the Sullivan County projects are uniquely positioned to gain a casino because the county and the projects are such a good fit with the requirements spelled out in the legislation and the request for applications. He said, “We really can’t lose; we really need to get behind all of our developers and support them, and move them forward.”

The contenders in the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region

Concord Kiamesha LLC, Kiamesha Lake
Louis R. Cappelli is a real estate developer who has been attempting to open a resort hotel in Sullivan County for more than 15 years. His partner, Mohegan Sun, owns a casino of the same name, which was created in 1996 by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut. It features dining, hotel accommodations, retail shopping, live entertainment and sporting events.

The Cordish Companies, South Blooming Grove

From the company’s website: “The Cordish Companies is one of the largest developers in the world with extensive expertise in almost every discipline of real estate: entertainment and mixed-use developments, sports anchored developments, shopping centers, corporate office, and residential/student housing.”

Empire Resorts Kiamesha Lake
Empire Resorts owns the Mighty M Gaming racetrack and racino in Monticello. EPR Properties, a partner in the project, is a specialty real estate investment trust that currently invests in entertainment, recreation and education properties.

Greenetrack , Inc. New Windsor
Greenetrack bills itself as the largest African-American owned casino-styled gaming company in the country and is committed to diversity and to increasing access for minority and women-owned businesses. Located in Eutaw, Alabama, Greenetrack was formerly known as the “Greene County Greyhound Park” and was established as a pari-mutuel live greyhound racing facility in 1977.

Grossinger Development Corporation, Liberty
Foxwoods operates six casinos in North America including the largest casino, which is located in Connecticut. Muss Development is a real estate development company operating in New York City and “has developed more than 15 million square feet of commercial, residential, industrial and retail space throughout the five boroughs.”

Caesars Entertainment, Woodbury

Caesar’s Entertainment began in Nevada, more than 75 years ago, and now operates casinos on three continents. The company operates 53 casinos across the globe. The company now proposes to build one near Woodbury Common, which now attracts 11 million visitors per year.

Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa, Ellenville
From the Nevele website: “Nevele Investors LLC is a subsidiary of Claremont Partners, an early stage gaming and hospitality development company with projects in North America and Asia. The company’s professionals have several decades of experience in the development, ownership, financing and operation of gaming projects.”

NYS Funding, LLC by Och-Ziff Real Estate

The company is not commenting on the project. The website says, “Founded in 1994 by Daniel S. Och, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group is one of the largest institutional alternative asset managers in the world, with approximately $42.7 billion in assets under management as of April 1, 2014.”

Genting Group, no site selected yet.
Based in Malaysia, the Genting Group, is one of the biggest gambling interests in the world. According to Wikipedia, “the group has experience in developing, operating and marketing casinos and integrated resorts in different parts of the world, including the Americas, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and United Kingdom. It has been voted Malaysia’s leading corporation and one of Asia’s best managed multinationals.”

Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., Newburgh

The Saratoga Casino and Raceway has 1,700 slot machines and harness racing. After facing opposition to a full casino from residents and some local officials, the company abandoned plans to build a casino in Saratoga Springs and is applying for two licenses – one in the Capital Region and one in Orange County.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe, Bridgeville
The Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohicans claims historical ties to Sullivan County and for more than a decade pursued a casino through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The tribe owns and operates the North Star Mohican Casino Resort In Wisconsin, with 1,200 gaming machines, various games, and a 130-room hotel.