Catskills casinos threatened by Orange County rivals

Above: The Nevele resort in Ellenville, one of several Catskills sites jockeying for a casino. Photo by June NY and shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool

Would-be Catskills casino operators in Sullivan and Ulster county got a nasty shock last month: They've got rivals further south who might knock them out of the running in the contest for new casino licenses in New York state.

The New York State Gaming Commission is expected to put out a call for casino applications this month. One or two of the winning projects, which will be announced in the fall, are slated for the Catskills. 

Plans to propose casinos on the sites of decaying Borscht Belt casinos in Sullivan County and Ulster counties have been in the works for years, but on February 21 the Time Herald-Record broke the news that multiple developers are eyeing competing casino locations in Orange County.

The Orange County sites suddenly in the running include a site near Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, according to New York Times

[O]ne newcomer, a partnership of Cordish Companies, Hard Rock and Simon Property Group, is looking at a site near Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, a sprawling mall in Orange County. It attracts over 11 million visitors a year, making it one of the state’s biggest tourist attractions. A casino there would be a mere 49 miles from Times Square, compared with the 90-mile trek to possible casino sites in Sullivan and Ulster Counties.

Another casino operator, Penn National Gaming, is sniffing around Orange County as well, according to the Times Herald-Record

The news made Sullivan and Ulster County casino proponents furious.

Louis Cappelli, the developer behind a proposed casino at the old Concord site in Monticello, told the NYT

“It would be a devastating blow to everyone who’s been trying to revive Sullivan County for the past 40 years ... It would cut us off from the supply of patrons.”

Tomorrow, according to a press release, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein will appear at Ellenville Regional Hospital to
show support  for the Ulster County contender in the game, a proposal for a casino on the site of the old Nevele resort in Ellenville.

Barry Lewis probably summed up the angst of the Catskills best in his Sunday column for the Times Herald-Record:

I'm wondering if a hotel guest was served a horrible bowl of borscht and decided to put a spell on Sullivan County: "For this you will pay!"

The Times Herald-Record wrote a great round-up of all the casino proposal players and where they stand on Sunday. The best part of the story is a helpful "Casino proposal scorecard" that maps out all the players in the high-stakes game of "New York Hold 'Em," as the paper calls the contest for licenses.