By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO March 26, 2004 Just because 1,800 video lottery terminals are coming to the Monticello Raceway does not mean that Empire Resorts is giving up on a casino adjacent to the 46-year-old complex.
Empire Resorts, which operates the Monticello Raceway, has submitted an environmental impact statement to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which, if approved, would allow the Cayuga Nation to obtain property next to the raceway for a casino operated by Empire Resorts. The casino would still require final approval from the state.
In the report, which is available at the Village of Monticello Clerks office as well as the Crawford Library, Catskill Development LLC (now a part of Empire) lists its projections for economic and environmental impacts.
Since it is a draft statement, written comments from the public are being accepted through April 2 and will be incorporated into the final statement. Such comments can be sent to Franklin Keel, Director of the Eastern Regional Office of the BIA, 711 Stewarts Ferry Pike, Nashville, TN 37214.
In the beginning of the statement, the company points out that 7.5 percent of the U.S. population lives within 100 miles of the raceways casino site. Las Vegas, it reads, would need a 350-mile radius to equal the same population.
Furthermore, it says that potential competing casinos such as Foxwoods, Atlantic City and Mohegan Sun do not have the ease of access which the raceway does.
However, the document projects that the casinos daily outtake per video lottery machine (3,000 machines) will be $168 less per day than Mohegan Sun and $35 less per day than Foxwoods. The estimated daily win per table (200 tables) for the casino is $2,350, less than both Las Vegas and Mohegan Sun.
The operating statement estimates total revenue from table games to be $171,550,000 in the first year. Video lottery terminals are expected to return $350,400,000. Food and beverage would bring back $64,350,000.
Based upon their operating statement, the developers would pay $5 million in local taxes during the first year.
That would rise to $5,975,000 in the seventh year, according to the document. New York State would get the lions share with 25 percent of the VLT revenue, or $672,776,000 over seven years.
The total development is estimated to cost $505 million. The casino would be 214,000 square feet, with a 2,500-car parking garage and a 2,300-car surface parking lot. The construction work alone on the project would create an estimated 2,650 jobs.
The casino itself is expected to employ 3,485 full-time workers. They estimate those jobs will add up to $93 million in the first year. The average annual wage would be $30,700 plus tips.
The casino would also feature a 41,000-square-foot bingo parlor and 12,000-square-foot poker room. A 150-foot skywalk would connect the casino to the raceway.
Empire Resorts projects 6.1 million visitors annually. Peak weekend attendance would be 33,000 per day. Peak weekday attendance would be 20,000.
The Cayuga Nation has the option of purchasing a 1/3 interest in the raceway building.
They also have the option of renewing their contract with Empire Resorts for the operation of the casino after seven years or they could run it themselves.
The Cayugas and Empire have still not worked out a revenue-sharing deal.
Any such deal would have to be approved by the Indian Gaming Commission, according to Charlie Degliomini, vice president of corporate communications for Empire Resorts.