Dan Hust | Democrat
JOHN PAULSEN, CEO of Rotate Black Gaming, at center, tells legislators Thursday that his company and its partner, the Seneca Nation of Indians, is eager to build a casino in Bridgeville. Also pictured are Legislative Aide Alexis Eggleton, Sullivan County Visitors Association President Roberta Byron-Lockwood and Bill Liblick of Swan Lake.
Senecas, county agree on fees
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The Senecas now join the Stockbridge-Munsees and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council in having a “mitigation payment” agreement with Sullivan County, intended to cover costs associated with the impacts of a proposed casino.
On Thursday, legislators unanimously approved a deal to have the Senecas pay $15.5 million a year when they begin the estimated two-year construction of a casino in Bridgeville, followed by $20 million a year during operations.
Additionally, should gross non-gaming revenues exceed $100 million per year, the county will get $100,000 for every $1 million over that $100 million figure.
It’s a sizable increase over the current $15 million/year agreements with the Mohawks and Stockbridge-Munsees, and it avoids the county having to rely on the state to distribute the payments, which was the original plan based on the Senecas’ operating agreements for three western NY casinos.
The sovereign nation proposes to build in Bridgeville a 2 million-square-foot casino facility, which will feature 6,000 slot machines, 120 table games and 30 poker tables, a race book center, a 1,500-room hotel and spa, 12 restaurants, high-end retail space, a 5,000-seat arena and 100,000-square-foot banquet space, among other amenities.
“It’s our intent to be a valuable part of the community,” Rotate Black CEO John Paulsen representing the Senecas’ operating company told legislators. “... It’s a great opportunity for us, and it’s a great opportunity for you.”
Good for seven years, the agreement will automatically renew unless the parties renegotiate, according to County Attorney Sam Yasgur.
Though the Town of Thompson is expected to get a portion of the proceeds, the agreement specifically dictates that the Monticello Joint Fire District (and other emergency services providers) will have to set up its own deal with the Senecas.
The Senecas have agreed to a local hiring preference while building the hotel and casino, but it will be union-only, and first dibs will go to Seneca tribal members, followed by other Native Americans of the historic Iroquois Confederacy, followed by county residents.
Roads on the Senecas’ 63-acre site will be constructed at their own expense, as will any improvements to neighboring state, county and town routes made necessary by the hotel and casino.
No gas will be sold on premises, alcohol will be offered for on-site consumption only, and tobacco products (including cigarettes) will be available just to casino patrons.
The county will not get room taxes from the hotel, but the Sullivan County Visitors Association will be allowed up to 1,000 square feet for static, unmanned displays.
In exchange for all this, the county must provide its support to the Senecas in their efforts to win the needed state and federal approvals to build and open the hotel and casino