The saga of who gets to open a casino in New York and where it will go continues on an almost daily basis with major gaming players like Caesars and Genting Americas doing their due diligence and trying to get local communities to buy in.
Of course, community buy in is a mixed bag with proponents and detractors aplenty. The most interesting development to date is the possibility that one or more casino operations will be located in Orange County. For those unfamiliar with New York geography, Orange County is a good deal closer to New York City than Sullivan County, the home of the Catskills resorts where casinos have been proposed at the site of the Concord and Nevele, formerly famous and popular summer resorts for city folks looking for a respite from the heat. The differences in driving distances are significant – from NYC to Tuxedo, NY in Orange County is 44 miles, less than an hour’s drive; from NYC to Kiamesha Lake, site of the Concord Hotel, is 95 miles, more like an hour 45 minutes ride.
The fear that potential investors for sites in Sullivan County have is that most gamblers coming from the south will opt for the shorter drive and dig into their business in a serious way. That is a legitimate fear. Gamblers are a fickle bunch. Regardless of the perks that casinos offer in an attempt to lure patrons to their buildings like points and comps, gamblers will choose convenience over value. In the long run, what one casino offers is very similar, if not exactly the same, as the next casino. A 45 minute drive will trump an hour 45 minute drive every time.
All license applicants, and the State of New York for that matter, are touting the establishment of 4 new casinos in New York as a way to deal with high unemployment rates and a bleak economic picture for the areas in questions. That’s not happening and the Atlantic City experience should be the proof in that pudding. The new jobs that will be available in the casino industry for locals will mostly all be low-paying service jobs. Casino executives will be out-of-town residents and, in the case of Orange County, will most likely choose to reside in the far more stable counties south of Orange (Westchester in particular) and possible even NYC proper. A cursory look at the income levels of most casino employees throughout the country reveals that few well-paying jobs will materialize.
There is some concern in all the potential communities where casinos are likely to be located about traffic and crime. The traffic concerns are real, and without major infrastructure improvements of roads and highway exits, may develop into nightmarish proportions. The drugs and crime arguments are more fear mongering than anything else yet these fears may result in more decent paying police jobs for the areas.
Local reporting is probably the most reliable on these topics so here are a few references and links from the Times-Herald-Record’s online version,