ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The field of contenders vying to build casinos in upstate New York came into focus Wednesday, the deadline for interested parties to submit a $1 million application fee.
The pitches come from some of the world's largest casino operators and local business owners, each hoping to win a license to open one of up to four casinos authorized in the Catskills, the Albany-Saratoga region and the Southern Tier. Their ideas include a Las Vegas-style facility 50 miles from New York City, modern casinos built on the sites of Borscht Belt resorts, and a casino near a cave.
Several developers and casino operators involved in the projects told The Associated Press that they submitted the hefty fee because they're confident their proposal will win out in the fall, when a state gambling panel will make the decisions.
The Catskills region attracted several contenders. Caesars Entertainment, Trading Cove New York, Foxwoods, Empire Resorts and a group proposing a casino at the site of the old Nevele resort have all submitted application fees.
Caesars Entertainment has plans for a $750 million development including a casino, hotel and entertainment space in Woodbury, just 50 miles north of New York City and near the sprawling Woodbury Commons shopping center.
"The site is ideally suited for the development of a resort casino given its proximity to transportation and other attractions," Caesars CEO Gary Loveman said in a statement.
Rivals in the region said putting a casino so close to New York City would be unlikely to give the upstate economy much of a boost.
"Woodbury is a world away from Ellenville," said Michael Treanor, who is proposing to build a casino on the site of the former Nevele resort in Ellenville. Treanor said his proposal would reinvigorate an economically troubled area. "We're right on the border between upstate and downstate. It's the perfect location."
Empire Resorts is pitching a complex including a 391-room hotel, conference center and 70,000-square-feet of gambling floor. Empire spokesman Charles Degliomini said the project has been underway for three years and is poised to move quickly if approved.
"This isn't going to be a conversation about whose neon sign is bigger," he said. "This is going to be about creating the attractions that is going to drive tourism from downstate to upstate."