By Matt Youngfrau
ALBANY October 26, 2001 This week, New York State lawmakers pulled the trigger on an omnibus gambling package that could bring gambling to Sullivan County.
In fact, said Park Place officials yesterday, a casino planned at Kutshers could break ground by late next year, if all approvals come through as expected.
A deal with the State Legislature had been anticipated all week and was finalized late Wednesday night. Both the Senate and the Assembly passed the bill with large margins. The deal is a part of the revised budget and awaits Governor George Pataki's signature.
The big push for the gambling package came as a result of the September 11 World Trade Center disaster. Lawmakers are concerned because they estimate, within the next 18 months, to lose between $8 and $12 billion in revenue. It is hoped the package could make up some of the lost revenue.
The first part of the bill zeroes in on casino gaming. The legislation would allow six casinos in New York State three in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area, two in Sullivan County and one in Ulster County. Part of the deal stipulates that the tribes must allow unions in the casinos.
The second part of the bill would permit Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) at five New York State racetracks: Aqueduct, Yonkers, Monticello, Finger Lakes, and Vernon Downs. The VLTs could be brought in within a few months and generate between $8,000 and $10,000 a day in revenue. Monticello Raceway could see anywhere between 500 and 2,000 VLTs.
The last part of the deal would make New York State a part of the Powerball Lottery. Powerball is run in conjunction with several states, and the revenue is split among them.
The two casinos expected to be approved are the St. Regis Mohawk/Park Place casino at Kutsher's Country Club and the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe casino at Exit 107 in Bridgeville. Both have plans in place and could be ready to go once all the approvals are given.
However, a local casino still has other hurdles to clear. Governor George Pataki would have to make a deal with the tribe, and the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs would have to sign off on it as well.
Park Place officials have stated that the casino would take about two years to construct, while the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe estimates it would take three years before their casino is ready.
There is also other money allocated in the gambling deal. Schools and not-for-profit groups that provide community services would receive $200 million each. Another $100 million has been set aside for economic development projects.