Jackpot or not? Plans for New York State casino still being discussed

The project would occupy a parcel on Noonan Lane on the city’s south side, next to the Thruway.jpg phto from Albanyalive.com

Tyler McNeil, Staff Writer

A possible $400 million Albany resort casino has been proposed for Exit 23 on the Thruway. According to David Flaum, Rochester developer of the project, the casino will create an estimated 1,500 construction jobs and 1,800 permanent jobs.

If constructed, the casino should distribute $11.4 million to the city of Albany and Albany County.

“Project E23” may include a 60,000 to 70,000-square-foot gaming floor, a 350-room hotel, dining, a water park, an indoor horse riding rink and nature trails around the establishment.

With the establishment of Project E23, the city of Albany could receive $5 million property tax infusion.

“Our plan fits seamlessly with all the inherent beauty and history of Albany,” said Flaum to the Albany Common Council on Apr. 4.

Flaum also stated that profits from the resort casino would go into a “community benefits fund” for law enforcement equipment, education programs and foreclosure prevention grants.

Since 1985, Flaum has been the founder and CEO of Flaum Management Co. Inc, which has partnered with Capital District Off-Track Betting Corp. to create the new resort casino.

If constructed, five homes spanning 84 acres on Noonan Lane would be demolished to construct the 60-acre resort casino.

2 Noonan Lane is currently the residence of Polly Noonan, daughter of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Mayor Kathy Sheehan failed to mention that Noonan Lane was Flaum’s plan and noted that Noonan was, “prepared to talk about [the casino].”

In the 2013 election, Albany County voters shot down Proposal Number One, an amendment authorizing casino gaming in New York State. Out of 1,484 voters, 50.69 percent opposed the amendment.

Of the 23 counties opposing the amendment was Saratoga County, home of Saratoga Gaming and Raceway. The statewide referendum passed with 57 percent of the vote, allowing the establishment of casinos in Albany, Schenectady Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.

Since the amendment passed, New York state planned on establishing seven “Sin City” style casinos, four of which would be located upstate.

Ethical issues were discussed on Mar. 21 at the Albany County Common Council meeting such as gambling addiction and crime, as well as traffic congestion in the Exit 23 toll area.

“I don’t support downtown casinos in downtown centers,” said Sheehan.

Sheehan supports the establishment of Project E23 three miles from downtown Albany, but is against the establishment of other recent casino proposals such as the DeLaet’s Landing proposal in Rensselaer bordering Albany and Rensselaer County.

The DeLaet’s Landing proposal near the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak Station would include the construction of an $18 million apartment building with retail stores, a marina and a hotel.

“I would have significant concerns about a casino right across the river in Rensselaer without anything to compensate the city,” said Sheehan.

Flaum Management Co. Inc. and Capital Gaming, LLC planned to develop 32 acres of a former Tobin First Prize plant in Colonie into a resort casino. Capital Gaming LLC, a Rochester based company, signed a contract purchasing the land in early January.

Tobin’s First Prize property has been owned by Exchange Street Associates since 1988 under Albany County Industrial Development Agency authorized a lease-purchase agreement.

The property has been listed for $5 million. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Whole Foods and Cabela’s have also considered the site.

Flaum ceased development of the area recently due to lack of political support.

In Schoharie County, Emil Galasso, owner of Howe Caverns, now wishes to build a casino on 330-acres of his lot. The manager of Howe Caverns presented the casino plan to the board of supervisors on Mar. 21.

The Saratoga Gaming and Raceway planned for a $30 million expansion in May 2013. On Apr. 1, the casino’s expansion was halted by a resolution opposing the establishment on a Saratoga full-scale casino.

The expansion would include a 120-room hotel and 24,000-square-feet where venues would be hosted. Along with construction, the racino applied for a license to add live table games from the New York State Gaming Commission.

The New York State Gaming Commission will accept casino license applications until June 30 in an effort to grant four casino licenses in three regions of New York State early in the fall of this year.

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