Montreign Resort Casino in Monticello wins the Catskills jackpot

Above: A rendering of the Montreign casino.

The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board has chosen to allow one developer to build a casino in the Catskills: the Montreign Resort Casino in the Sullivan County town of Thompson. The board also granted two other casino licenses in two other regions in the state in its selection report, which it released today. (Read the full report by clicking here.)

Montreign, a division of Empire Resorts, will be built on the site of the former Concord Resort Hotel in Monticello. The casino will be part of a larger destination resort called the Adelaar.

The gaming facility location board rejected eight other applicants vying for the chance to develop a Catskills casino, including a contender from Ulster County who wanted to build on the site of the former Nevele hotel and Mohegan Sun, which hoped to build its own casino in Monticello. Six developers also proposed casinos in Orange County, which was considered part of the Catskills region for the purposes of the gaming facility location board.

Although the gaming board was authorized to issue up to two licenses for casinos in the Catskills, it has only issued one. At a public meeting today, members of the gaming board explained their reasoning, the Daily Freeman reports: 

The siting board said it opted against the Orange County sites because their location likely would discourage downstaters from coming farther north to gamble. It said it then decided to pick only one of the three Sullivan-Ulster applicants because to choose two so close to each other would have created too much competition.

In its report, the gaming board explained why it chose Montreign:

The Board finds that Montreign’s location in Sullivan County presents the potential to revive a once-thriving resort destination area that has experienced a significant downturn and has a great need for economic development and well-paying jobs. Montreign’s inclusion in the Adelaar development increases prospects for an attractive tourism destination.

Montreign anticipates creating approximately 1,209 full-time and 96 part-time permanent jobs. Montreign also anticipates using New York-based subcontractors and suppliers and has demonstrated strong minority and women business enterprise procurement practices.

Another factor in the choice was that the financing for the Nevele project in Ulster County wasn't committed, according to the board's report: 

In the case of the Nevele proposal, a critical concern is that the proposal required $240 million of equity financing that is not yet committed. A very substantial share of such equity capital is proposed to come from firms that lack experience in the gaming industry and that did not submit financial statements.

As for the Mohegan Sun proposal, the board concluded that the Montreign proposal was "more comprehensive and well-measured." 

“It’s a great day for Empire Resorts, the resilient residents of Sullivan County, and our co-developer EPR Properties,” said Emanuel Pearlman, the chairman of Empire Resorts, issued a statement celebrating the victory:

Today’s decision by the Board is an important next step as we finalize our plans to attract tourism to Upstate New York and create thousands of good paying jobs as well as new revenue for local businesses. We thank the Board for their hard work in vetting these applications, and their decision is very much valued and appreciated. After receiving all final regulatory approvals, we will break ground as soon as possible on what will truly be a Catskills destination reborn.

Ulster County executive Mike Hein issued a statement expressing disappointment that the Nevele project didn't make the cut:

Today’s announcement that the Nevele project in Ellenville was not chosen as a future gaming site is truly disappointing news for the Hudson Valley. I am, however, immensely proud of our amazing community and the unprecedented show of support and solidarity by so many individuals, organizations and local governments who came together to advocate for this project. All of us who have supported this project believe the state legislation that brought casino gaming to New York was crafted with sites just like the Nevele in mind; and so, it is my great hope that the State will reconsider and award the second Catskill area license to the Nevele. The decision announced today is once again deeply disappointing, but our focus will remain on taking positive steps to assist Ellenville, Wawarsing and all the residents of Ulster County.

It's not time to break ground yet in Monticello. First, the state must issue a license to the developer. That process is expected to be quick