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Rensselaer casino interests seeking support from Montgomery County

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Updated: 10:43 AM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

Recorder News Staff

FONDA -- Three weeks after losing a bid for a proposed casino off Thruway Exit 27, the Montgomery County Legislature may consider putting its support behind another casino project being proposed in the capital region.

A resolution supporting the casino proposed in Rensselaer will be considered next week, after it was pulled from the agenda at Tuesday's regular board meeting.

"Without hearing form the other competitors I don't feel I have all the facts and I don't find it appropriate to give support to one over the other without hearing presentations from the others," District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz said.

The decision to pull the resolution was made after hearing a presentation form John Signor, president and CEO of Capital Off-Track Betting, which is partnering with Hard Rock Entertainment and Global Gaming Consulting in proposing a $280 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at De Laet's Landing in Rensselaer.

The proposal includes a casino with the off-track-betting outlet, as well as a 100 -room hotel with a indoor/outdoor pool, fitness center and meeting space, a 250-seat restaurant, and a retail outlet.

Signor said OTB has been losing revenues during the past 10 years because of competition. This also impacts Montgomery County, which gains approximately $51,000 in revenue from OTB.

The partnership with the casino, he said, would double the county's revenues to $100,000 a year, depending on the gaming revenues generated, if it is built.

"We were concerned that if we didn't get involved with the casino our business was going to decline even further," he said. "We believe we have the best operator who has the best brand name."

In addition, OTB is partnering with a developer in Rochester to own the land in Rensselaer and provide the casino operator with a ground lease. This would generate an additional $1.5 million in revenues for OTB.

"Because of your relationship with OTB we think we can get you more revenue than any other casino proposal," Signor said.

The casino is expected to make $260 million in annual gaming revenue, which is more than any other casino being proposed in the capital region, Signor said. It is also expected to create 1,638 direct and indirect jobs.

Including the revenues from OTB, Signor said the Hard Rock Casino expects to generate $748,000 for Montgomery County. This would be more than Schoharie County's proposed casino at Howe Caves Resort and Casino in Schoharie County, he said, which would generate $564,000 for Montgomery County.

He added that 1O out of 16 surrounding counties in the capital region have already supported the resolution.

District 8 Legislator Joseph Isabel asked why they need a resolution supporting the Rensselaer site.

Signor replied they wanted to win one of four casino licenses being offered in upstate New York and wanted to show that they had the support.

"We believe if we can get the support from Fulton and Montgomery counties, it would have more weight," he said.

However, Isabel said he does not support the resolution.

"I think it is a little premature being that we just lost our casino," he said.

An application submitted by developer Clairvest Group Inc. to develop a 512-acre site in the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam was disqualified earlier this month because it was incomplete.

District 6 Legislator John Duchessi disagreed with Isabel.

"This resolution makes sense because we are protecting an already existing stream of revenue to the county," he said. "We seem to benefit the most from the casino who generates the most revenue."

However, Weitz said that without hearing from the other competitors, they don't have all the facts.

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said they didn't hear from the other sites but that he would like to reach out to them.

Chairman and District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush said he supports the resolution but is concerned that it would get voted down since not all the legislators were present.

Legislators Martin Kelly, Roy Dimond and Barbara Wheeler were absent.

A special meeting of the full board will take place Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. for the legislature to give other casino operators an opportunity to make a presentation. The resolution supporting the Rensselaer project will be discussed.

Contact Nicole Antonucci at nicole.antonucci@recordernews.com.

     

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