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Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor renderings






Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady picked for Capital Region casino

Rivers Casino Schenectady rendering front small

A rendering of the project.

The state Gaming Facility Location Facility Board has picked the Rivers Casino and Resort project in Schenectady as its recommended site for the Capital Region. The $300 million proposal is part of the Galesi Group's Mohawk Harbor mixed-use project at the former Alco site.

Ahead of the announcement, chairman Kevin Law explained the board sought to select applications that both fit the guidelines laid out in the state law allowing the casinos -- 70 percent economic development, 20 percent local impact, 10 percent jobs -- and also held the most promise of long term success.

Strengths of the Schenectady proposal cited by the board:

+ Economic development potential of the Rivers project as part of the Mohawk Harbor mixed use development (itself projected to be a $150 million investment). Also: projected gross gambling revenue of $222.5 million, and $82.1 million in gambling tax revenue, by 2019.

+ Experience backers, including Rush Street Gaming, which operates casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and a spot near Chicago.

+ A "credible plan" for financing. (Rush Street said during its public presentation that it was intending to finance, but it could fund the whole thing if need be.)

+ Plans for jobs programs. (The casino is projected to include 877 full-time jobs and 193 part-time jobs.)

+ Plan to brand the hotel at the casino with a nationally-recognized brand.

+ Local support, and plans for working with local entertainment venues.

Here are some renderings of the planned project from the Rivers application.

The Gaming Facility Location Facility Board's choice isn't the official end of the license process. The board's pick is technically a recommendation, and it will now be up to the state Gaming Commission to license the applicants.

The Capital Region projects that weren't picked

The other Capital Region sites that were in the running: Capital View Casino & Resort in East Greenbush, Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Rensselaer, and Howe Caverns Resort & Casino in Cobleskill.

The briefing doc released by the board includes a few comments about why those projects didn't stack up as well as the Schenectady proposal:

+ Capital View: "[T]he level of public support for the Capital View project was significantly less than was the case for the other three Capital Region Applicants." (There was a very vocal group opposing the East Greenbush site.)

+ Hard Rock: "The Board finds the Hard Rock proposal to be compelling. However, the Board determined, through an overall comparison of the two and despite Hard Rock's revenue projections, Rivers is a more comprehensive and well measured proposal."

+ Howe Caverns: "The Board notes that in the case of the Howe Caverns proposal, a critical concern is that the Applicant provided no commitment or highly confident letters for either its equity or debt financing. Unlike all other Applicants, the sponsors of the Howe Caverns proposal stated that it could not propose a capital structure in any level of detail prior to receiving a gaming license. The Board notes that in a supplement to its initial Application, Howe Caverns provided a commitment for one credit facility. However, the Board is unable to verify the financial ability of the lender to satisfy such commitment."

Other sites around the state

The board had the ability to recommend up to four sites across the three upstate regions. The conventional wisdom had been initially that the Catskills/Hudson Valley region would get two casinos. But in a bit of a twist, the board said it decided that two casinos in that region would work against each other -- and chose to recommend just one site in either Sullivan or Ulster County.

Catskills/Hudson Valley: Montreign Resort Casino / Adelaar in Sullivan County, in the town of Thompson (map)

Southern Tier/Finger Lakes: Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County, in the town of Tyre (town map)

Briefing doc about board selections

NYS Gaming Facility Location Facility Board Site Recommendations 2014-12-17


Earlier on AOA:
+ Speed reading the Capital Region casino presentations
+ What the proposed Capital Region casinos could end up looking like


Congratulations, Schenectady. Look forward to a local boom in pawn shops and payday lenders.

Thanks Mike but we already have tons of those!

Hi, do the casino have plugs near the slot machines so you can keep your phone charged as you play the game.

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