by Matt Alderton | December 18, 2014
Approximately 13 months after voters approved casino gambling in New York State, the New York Gaming Facility Location Board has chosen sites for three planned casino resorts, all in upstate New York, it announced yesterday. The Las Vegas-style resorts, in the Catskills, near Albany, and in the Finger Lakes region, are expected to generate thousands of new jobs and up to $300 million in new tax revenues.

"New Yorkers spend more than $1 billion per year at out-of-state casinos. As those dollars leave the state, so do good jobs, tourism, and economic development that could be kept and grown within New York's borders," the location board explains in its site-selection report. "The [New York State Gaming Commission] … intends to move promptly to issue licenses so that construction can begin, jobs can be created, and the economic climate can improve."

Indeed, its focus on economic development figured prominently in the board's decisions: Although state law allows up to four casinos, the board recommended only three sites, citing increased competition for gaming dollars across the Northeast; foregoing a fourth casino, it said, will make it easier for the other three to succeed.

Furthermore, the board rejected six applications for casinos in Orange County, the region closest to New York City. Instead, it chose sites in economically depressed Sullivan, Schenectady, and Seneca counties.

The location board received 17 applications for proposed projects and has invited the following three to formally apply for casino licenses:

• The Montreign Resort Casino, located in the Catskills town of Thompson, in Sullivan County, will be a $630 million project encompassing an 18-story casino, hotel, and entertainment complex with an 86,300-square-foot casino, 391 hotel rooms, several dining and entertainment venues, meeting spaces, and an indoor waterpark.

• The Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor will be part of a larger redevelopment effort at a formerly blighted riverfront site in the city and county of Schenectady. The $300 million project will include a 150-room hotel, a high-end steakhouse, a high-end lounge, a banquet facility, a spa, and a 50,000-square-foot casino with 66 gambling tables and more than 1,100 slot machines.

• Lago Resort & Casino (rendering above, left) in the Finger Lakes town of Tyre, in Seneca County, will be a $430 million project encompassing 207 hotel rooms, multiple restaurants and lounges, a space, and a 94,000-square-foot casino with 2,000 slot machines and 85 gaming tables.

The chosen sites must now undergo background checks and environmental reviews prior to receiving licenses from the New York State Gaming Commission. Assuming rapid licensure, the planned resorts could open as early as 2016.