ALBANY – In the wake of the decision not to site a casino in Ulster County, it's been suggested that permitting some video lottery terminals, or VLTs, might serve as at least a second prize for the southern part of the county. Two competing proposals have been made in public, but it's not clear that either would be able to get through both houses of the state legislature.
On one hand is a resurrected VLT plan for two Rochester resorts, Pinegrove Family Dude Ranch and Hudson Valley Resort. The bill never reached the floor for a vote in Albany a couple of years ago, amid concerns that it would undermine the Nevele's bid for a class 3 gaming license; while the town of Rochester passed a resolution in support, the Ulster County Legislature did not, and the proposal was criticized by Nevele CEO Michael Treanor and Wawarsing elected officials. David O'Halloran, owner of Pinegrove, suggested earlier this year that the Nevele and Honor's Haven, both in Wawarsing, might also be included, but the new assembly bill A2196 has not been changed. While he did not return calls for comment on this story, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has indicated he would support this measure.
More recently, Nevele investors released a new redevelopment plan that would include a sports complex and 750 VLTs. Rather than begin with the legislature, which ultimately must pass a bill on the question, Treanor and his investors called upon the governor to help make things happen first.
O'Halloran declined to comment on that proposal, and attempts to reach investors in the Hudson Valley Resort were unsuccessful.
A spokesman at Senator James Seward's office said that determining local support for A2196 would occur after the budget process was complete for the year, and confirmed that he did carry the bill in the senate the last time it came up. It was added that no one from the Nevele had contacted his office.
Senator John Bonacic, who is chairman of the committee overseeing gambling for the state senate, had a much clearer statement... which does not bode well for either proposal.
"I have read the report of the Gaming Facility Location Board with respect to the Nevele's application for a casino," he wrote. "It was not very flattering. Serious concerns were raised about the financing for the project and the experience of the management team related to casino operations. Additionally, I do not think the Gaming Commission or the Legislature would look favorably upon a Nevele proposal to operate a video lottery terminal (VLT) facility because of the concern that a facility of that size could destabilize the gaming market in our region."
Continuing, the longtime champion of gaming in the region continued to deep six local VLT dreams, especially at The Nevele.
"I do not believe locating VLTs at resorts in the Catskills region is compatible with the Montreign resort which was selected to be awarded a casino license by the Gaming Facility Location Board," Bonacic added. "If you give approval to A.2196, what is to prevent further legislative requests for the proliferation of VLT facilities throughout the region and state, destabilizing the gaming market before the new casino proposals which were just selected even begin construction?"
Meanwhile, Rochester supervisor Carl Chipman said that he continues to be supportive of VLTs in his town, and does not feel the board's position has changed the original resolution.