Inside Gaming returns this week to look at the race for casino expansion in New York State, MGM and AEG breaking ground on an arena on the Vegas Strip, and the Ho-Chunk tribe reinvesting in four locations.
New York State Banks $22 Million in Application Fees
On Thursday, the New York Gaming Facility Location Board announced that 22 companies submitted proposals to develop a casino in New York State, ponying up $1 million each. The list includes Caesars Entertainment, Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., and Pinnacle Entertainment.
- Caesars Entertainment
- Capital Region Gaming, LLC
- Concord Kiamesha LLC and Mohegan Gaming New York LLC
- CRCR Enterprises, LLC
- Empire Resorts
- Florida Acquisition Corp by Clairvest
- Greenetrack , Inc.
- Grossinger Development Corporation
- Howe Caves Development LLC
- Hudson Valley Gaming, LLC
- Nevele-R, LLC by Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa
- NYS Funding, LLC by Och-Ziff Real Estate
- OCCR Enterprises, LLC
- Pinnacle Entertainment
- Rolling Hills Entertainment LLC by Baker Botts LLP
- RW Orange County LLC by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
- Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. (I)
- Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. (II)
- Tioga Downs Racetrack LLC
- Trading Cove New York, LLC
- Traditions Resort & Casino
- Wilmot Casino & Resort by Wilmorite, Inc
Genting Group says it will also compete for one of the four available licenses, promising to build a "destination resort" in one of the locations designated about 40 or more miles north of Manhattan.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo champions casino expansion in the state, arguing that the resorts can be used as an economic tool. He is excited by the interest garnered thus far.
“The cynics said, ‘You’re not going to get the applications, people are not going to apply, the time is done, gaming is over the curve,’ ” Cuomo said. “I think you’ve actually had more interest and it’s gone better than people suspected it might early on.”
On Wednesday, applicants will attend a public conference in Albany where the board will field questions about the licensing process. Within 10 days of the meeting, the state will inform the applicants of the minimum capital investment required for their projects to be considered. Those figures will be generated based upon the proposed location.
The majority of the applicants targeted the Catskills or southern Hudson Valley, because those regions are closer to New York City. Casino operators who chose to develop farther upstate will not only have to battle with the distance from NYC, but the already five Indian casinos and nine racetracks with electronic slot machine parlors as well.
The location board says that the purpose of the $1 million application fee is to offset the cost of the vetting process. Formal bids on the casinos are due on June 30, and the board expects to make a final decision by early fall.
MGM and AEG Break Ground on Vegas Strip Arena
Decision-makers and casino operators in Las Vegas are still campaigning for a professional sports team to take a risk and make Sin City its home, breaking ground on a new, 20,000-seat arena along the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday.
MGM Resorts International teamed up with sports and entertainment conglomerate AEG to bring the $350 million project to Vegas, and the estimated completion date is Spring 2016. The arena will be the centerpiece of an eight-acre entertainment and dining district titled "The Park," and is located near New York-New York Hotel & Casino and Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.
MGM hosts hundreds of successful events yearly, including some of the most-watched boxing matches in the world, and CEO Jim Murren believes that there is more than enough demand for an arena even thought there are several event centers across the city. The project is also privately funded, so taxpayers and business owners don't have to shoulder the burden.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman is fighting for a $390 million arena near the outlet malls in Vegas' downtown area, but the finance plan calls for $151 million from a development group and $187 million in city-issue bonds that would be paid off with arena revenue. The remaining $52 million would be made up from taxes, and downtown business owners are firmly against covering this fee.
Goodman believes that this planned arena can compliment the one backed by MGM and AEG, and the project is still moving forward.
As it stands, the biggest arena in town is the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The 21-year-old arena has a capacity of roughly 19,500 for boxing events, and under 19,000 for basketball games. MGM's Mandalay Bay Events Center can seat 12,000, the MGM Grand Garden Arena 17,000, and the Orleans Arena 9,500.
For more, check out USA Today
Ho-Chunk Gambling Investing $144M in Four Casinos
The Ho-Chunk tribal legislature voted in favor of a $144 million expansion project at four different locations in Wisconsin, and expects the funds to kick in this fall.
The project includes a $11.2 million hotel and a $4.5 million events center at the Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa casino in Port Edwards, a $6.7 million casino floor expansion, a $14.4 million hotel, and a $5.8 million conference center in Wittenberg, and improvements in Black River Falls and Wisconsin Dells.
The expansions will create 317 permanent jobs, according to the tribe, and Gov. Scott Walker's office released a statement confirming the plans. The plans conform to terms of the Ho-Chunk compact with the state of Wisconsin, thus the state government doesn't have to approve the plans.
“One of the important things is, we don’t want to disrupt customers coming into the facilities,” Ho-Chunk public relations officer Colin Price said. “We want to make it minimal as far as impact.”
Wittenberg village and town officials are excited about the proposed expansion, and are hopeful that it will boost the area's tourism and economy.
“We need new jobs, we need a lot in Wittenberg,” said Wittenberg Village Board president Bill Switalla. “We’re far enough away from all the jobs and people don’t want to travel with gas prices. We’ve got a lot of empty houses here. If it’ll bring the jobs, I’m all for it.”
The 300-plus jobs will not just go to tribal members, according to Price, and right now roughly 70 percent of the 3,000 people employed by Ho-Chunk are common citizens of Wisconsin.
“One of the best parts of working for the nation is the benefits package,” Price said. “We have packages for employees that have top-notch health care.”