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Mohegan Sun to make case for Catskills casino next week

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: theday.com

Published September 04. 2014 5:24PM   Updated September 04. 2014 11:50PM
Tribal Gaming group set to offer casino proposal to New York regulators

Mohegan Sun executives can be expected to steer the conversation around Atlantic City next week when they pitch their plan for a $550 million resort casino in the Catskills.

A group headed by Mitchell Etess, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority’s chief executive officer, is scheduled to appear Tuesday in Albany before the New York State Gaming Commission’s five-member Facility Location Board to tout Mohegan Sun at the Concord, the project the authority is pursuing with Westchester, N.Y.-based developer Louis Cappelli.

Over two days — Monday and Tuesday — casino operators will parade a total of 16 projects before the board, all against a backdrop of casino closings in Atlantic City, which this week witnessed the shuttering of The Showboat and Revel casinos. The Trump Plaza is scheduled to shut down Sept. 16. The Atlantic Club closed in January.

Might the New Jersey closings have a chilling effect on New York’s plans to license four new casinos in parts of the Empire State?

Etess dismissed the notion Thursday.

“We have not heard that,” he said. “What happened in Atlantic City is looming over all of gaming, but what’s happened there is a right-sizing of the market based on what’s changed around them,” he said. “If you look at New York, you’re looking at targeted economic growth. … I don’t see Atlantic City as having any relevance to New York.”

Similarly, Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, said he doubted the Atlantic City closings would have any impact on the casino-licensing processes taking place in New York or, for that matter, Massachusetts, where Mohegan Sun has proposed a $1.3 billion project in Revere.

Gros noted that Resorts Casino Hotel, a surviving Atlantic City property managed by Mohegan Sun, has been quite successful, which could help Mohegan Sun’s New York bid.

Mohegan Sun at the Concord is one of nine projects vying for up to two licenses that could be awarded for New York’s Catskills/Hudson Valley region. Three of the nine would be located in the Catskills while the other six have been proposed for Orange County, a more lucrative market between the Catskills and New York City.

A casino in Orange County would preclude one in the Catskills, Etess maintained.

“There’s no question that the true intent of the (New York) legislation was to bring economic stimulus to upstate New York, particularly Sullivan County and the Catskills,” he said. “If you put a casino in Orange County, you would not be able to put one in Sullivan County.”

The Mohegan Sun project would be developed on the site of the former Concord Hotel in the Sullivan County town of Thompson. The other Catskills projects include Empire Resorts’ $1.1 billion Montreign Resort Casino, also proposed for Thompson, and the $640 million Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa, which would be built in the Ulster County town of Wawarsing.

The six Orange County proposals include two by Genting Americas, the $1.5 billion Sterling Forest Resort and the $830 million Resorts World Hudson Valley; Caesars Entertainment’s $1.1 billion Caesars New York; Cordish Companies/Penn National Gaming’s $750 million The Live! Hotel and Casino; Saratoga Casino and Raceway/Rush Street Gaming’s $670 million Hudson Valley Casino & Resort; and Greenetrack’s $400 million Grand Hudson Resort & Casino.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

Twitter: @bjhallenbeck

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