Movement on casino front on eve of BIA visit
Capelli makes offer
By Dan Hust
KIAMESHA LAKE A letter written to Concord developer Louis Cappelli on Thursday indicates his desire to partner with the Senecas to bring a casino to Kiamesha Lake.
Though Cappelli could not be reached for comment over the weekend, an August 20 letter written by Seneca Nation of Indians representative Michael John would appear to confirm Cappelli’s interest.
“Thank you for your call today regarding the possibility of the Seneca Nation acquiring all or a part of your Concord Hotel property for a Class III gaming facility,” wrote John, the chair of the Senecas’ Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Catskills. “This is an attractive prospect, and we would like to discuss this further with you when we are in Monticello next week.”
John was referring to this coming Wednesday’s visit by Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Interior Larry EchoHawk, who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
EchoHawk is scheduled to meet privately with pro- and anti-casino representatives and tour potential casino sites, including the Senecas’ 64-acre parcel in Bridgeville.
There is speculation the letter was deliberately leaked to the media ahead of EchoHawk’s visit so as to better position the Senecas’ casino bid, which is dependent on EchoHawk and his superior, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, granting approval for an off-reservation casino.
Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder was out of the office yesterday and could not be reached. However, sources close to the Senecas say they’ve been courting Kutsher’s and Empire Resorts (owner of the Monticello Casino and Raceway), as well.
seek land in trust
In a letter to EchoHawk, Seneca President and Gaming Chairman Barry E. Snyder expressed an interest in submitting an application to have the 63 acres in Bridgeville placed into federal trust status and and be deemed gaming-eligible Indian Country in order to establish a Class III gaming facility.
buys Empire stock
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The owner of the world’s largest hotel and one of the founders of the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut may soon have a nearly 50 percent stake in Empire Resorts.
Empire announced this past week that Kien Huat Realty III Limited has agreed to invest $55 million in Empire in exchange for just one share less than 50 percent of the company’s total stock.
Kien Huat is the investment company behind the Genting Group, a multinational conglomerate based in Malaysia that owns and operates the world’s largest hotel at a 10,000-room mountaintop recreational complex near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Genting is now nearing completion of a Universal Studios theme park and Hard Rock Hotel in Singapore, estimated to cost $4.5 billion when complete.
The company, under the leadership of the son of a Chinese businessman who was the wealthiest man in Asia when he died in 2007, also owns Star Cruises, the world’s third-largest cruise line and owner of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Kien Huat itself financed the startup of Foxwoods Casino and Resort, run by a local Native American tribe in Connecticut, and the Senecas’ Niagara Casino in Buffalo.
Apparently, the company is aligning itself with Empire’s desire to do the same thing at Monticello Casino and Raceway, where talks are again afoot with the St. Regis Mohawks to build a full-fledged casino, rather than the NYS Lottery-run casino that exists there now.
Empire’s vice president, Charles Degliomini, would not comment on specific Indian casino plans, but he did encourage residents and officials to “stay tuned.”
“It certainly is a very positive turn of events for the county,” Degliomini remarked last Thursday, pleased that Kien Huat identified the raceway as a good investment opportunity.
He said this has nothing to do with the Concord redevelopment plans, whose developer, Louis Cappelli, sits on Empire’s Board. But this new infusion of funding will help Empire pay off a $4.4 million bank loan and put it back on healthy financial footing.
The deal is subject to stockholder approval, and if that is gained, three business partners of Kien Huat will eventually be named directors of Empire’s board, including a casino attorney named G. Michael Brown as chairman.