May 19

The people’s say on Catskills’ newest casino resort


catskillsThe Times Herald Record recently asked 1,000 of its readers to cast their opinions on some local developments affecting the Catskills region of New York. Back in March this year Empire Resorts announced plans for a $750 million development, promising significant economic benefits to the area’s local businesses and a positive impact on the tourism of the East Coast area.


But not everybody shares the same enthusiasm: the casino project in the Catskills region has been the subject of a heated debate thanks to The Times Herald Record, and everybody from Catskills to Orange County, New York, has shared their two cents.


While the state of New York is currently in the running for four new casinos to be built, the survey revealed that residents would sooner the new development be built in Sullivan County, approximately 85 miles from Catskills, rather than within the mountainous region. However, more recently, residents from Orange County expressed their desire for the casino to be built in their area, much to the ire of neighbouring residents. One survey participant remarked: “The casinos for Sullivan County and Ellenville have been in the works for some time. It’s very unfair for Orange County to come in at the end and think they should have it.”


The license gamble


Not all views on the casino have been negative however. In Empire Resorts’ recent application to the New York State Gaming Commission for a license (setting them back a tidy $1 million), the news was generally well received. So well received was it in fact, that the Town of Thompson board recently voted ‘in favour’ of the application. Apart from the obvious economic benefits to the state, this could have been, in part, thanks to Empire Resorts’ signing of a Labour Peace Agreement with the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council.


The application now means that Empire Resorts will have a license covering zoning, master development and environmental approvals of the gaming facility. With a 391 room hotel including a 70,000 square feet gaming floor, beverage outlet, a conference centre spa and salon and entertainment venues, it’s clear that Empire Resorts are keen to move forward with this project. Whether or not the public are entirely happy with the decision however, is anybody’s guess.


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