How did Orange County become the site of six proposed casinos, including the most extravagant proposals, like Genting’s .5 billion resort proposed for the city of Tuxedo?
According to the Goshen-Chester Chronicle, the legislation endorsed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and approved by voters in 2013 mainly focused on building casinos in Sullivan County, the former Borscht Belt set in the Catskill Mountains.
The Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act was designed to bring new business and jobs to struggling parts of the state. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, told the Chronicle, “The real intent has been to uplift Sullivan County. That’s where, in my view, the casinos would be helpful.”
Pretlow said “Orange County was never in the mix” when he helped draft the legislation, and the change was made afterward, by the governor.
“The legislative intent should have excluded Orange County,” Pretlow said. “We wanted to put it where people were suffering.”
State Senator William J. Larkin Jr. said Cuomo “added on Orange County” into the 2013 casino legislation. “None of us requested it,” Larkin said. “It was his decision.”
Casino developers outside Orange County say its proximity to New York City would siphon off the patron base and prevent people from traveling farther upstate, especially to the Catskills, in the Hudson Valley further north. Caesars and Genting are considered the strongest candidates for an Orange County license.
One Sullivan County official is still confident the Catskills will prevail and win two of the four available casino licenses. County Legislator Ira Steingart, chairman of the Community and Economic Development Committee, told the Mid-Hudson News that the county made the best presentation to the siting committee.
“We gave a very compelling argument that it’s not only the right thing, it’s the intent of the law, but it is also right for a revenue stream to the state,” Steingart said.