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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label casino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label casino. Show all posts

Rensselaer Mayor Calls for Schenectady Casino Approval to be Stripped

Written By Editor on 12/30/14 | 12/30/14

Rensselaer's mayor is making waves with a controversial proposal. Dan Dwyer, mayor of one of the communities that lost out on the gaming commission's decision, decided to press Governor Cuomo to lean on the NYS Gaming Commission. The request was reported in the Schenectady Gazette, citing a letter from Dwyer dated December 29th.

The mayor wrote in part, that the decision was, "inexplicable how the Capital District casino choice could have been the Rivers [project] located on the western edge of Schenectady rather than the Hard Rock Casino on the shores of the Hudson River in the City of Rensselaer and supported by the cities of Albany and Troy."

The approval from the Commission was made unanimously.

This comes right after Governor Cuomo announced that he would ask the Gaming Commission to reconsider allowing a casino into the Southern Tier.

Cuomo: Reopen Casino Application for Southern Tier

Written By Editor on 12/29/14 | 12/29/14

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his support for allowing a casino near the Binghamton area. Even though the state Gaming Commission rejected a bid for a casino in the Southern Tier, the governor is now calling for one to be placed there.
"If you agree to this request, the (casino board) should quickly establish a process for the fourth license that could be complete as expeditiously as possible as the Southern Tier needs jobs and investment now."
This part of the state has the highest unemployment rate and was one of the few parts of the state with substantial support for fracking, which will soon be outlawed. Cuomo shifted his position on a Southern Tier casino after pressure from local lawmakers.

There was broad shock that none of the Southern Tier casino applications were approved, including among his backers:
Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural was seething over being passed over, telling reporters after the announcement that he felt like a "fool" after he contributed $800,000 at Cuomo's behest last year to help a referendum pass that legalized casino gambling in New York.
There is no indication that a similar action will happen for the Capital Region.

Insiders: Howe Caverns Proposal Plagued by Missteps

Written By Editor on 12/19/14 | 12/19/14

Even before the December 17th decision to not accept the Howe Caverns Casino proposal, there have been rumblings about how the project was pieced together. By interviewing local officials, former Howe Caverns employees, and those involved in the push we have been able to piece together part of why the Howe Caverns project was not accepted.

The fight began unexpectedly. The Board of Supervisors rejected a motion to accept a local casino and most locals seemed against it. Just several days later a political earthquake hit the area, with the announcement that Howe Caverns would be pursuing the process. The County Board swiftly reversed itself under pressure from Cobleskill Stone Vice President and County Republican Vice Chair Chris Tague. With the Howe Caverns name attached to the project, the public also backed the project.

April and May seemed to pick up momentum for the project. Howe Caverns anted up $1 million for the gaming application, got our endorsement, said that it had an environmental study done early, and received the unanimous backing of the Cobleskill Town Board.

However, many of the early moves seemed to get the horse before the cart. The early enthusiasm seemed to get the public relation effort ahead of the actual bread and butter of the project's inner workings. According to the State Gaming Commission, the actual proposal to the state didn't indicate a solid plan for how the casino would be funded. Second, multiple surrounding municipalities were not asked for opinions on the casino. Beyond this, deeper structural problems affected the project.

First, the naming of the Howe Caverns Casino owner dropped the ball. The potential owner, Michael Malik, received as much criticism as he did attention. His past involvement in domestic abuse, a ponzi scheme, and election fraud drew attention away from the project itself.

Beyond this, Howe Caverns' own strategy was confusing. Its failure to open its announced Dinosaur Park and Waterpark seemed to underscore larger plans without the funding or the logistics behind to finish them. Furthermore, a recent drop in tourism and gutting of many employees highlighted an atmosphere of instability at the site. One former employee described the efforts as inexplicable.

Still, public support remained high. The project's backers seemed to switch their efforts from the gaming commission process to one of relying on public opinion. Howe Caverns would bus in supporters in t-shirts to every event, winning plaudits for effort. A powerful ad that some believed to be manipulative was launched.

This line of attack seemed to avoid questions about the project's profitability and feasibility. Concerns were regularly replaced with constant shouts of "IT'S OUR TIME," in person or on Facebook. Emails flew from at least one County agency supporting the project using a County email address. Furthermore, the project did not actually have the correct SEQR, as it was claimed earlier.

The project seemed to be relying on a local base of support. Cobleskill Stone Vice President Chris Tague became the public face of the project. He organized the moderately attended Fill the Hill event.

Tague's approach rallied the faithful but seemed heavy handed to some officials. Rather than reinforcing the underwriting or actuarial basis for a local casino, the emotion of Irene was used to support the project. Heavy backing from the County Planning Department and Alicia Terry seemed to indicate the casino's role as a potential savior of the local economy. A PR firm was hired and attention was paid to direct supporters to swamp news polls, but the underlying questions never seemed to receive answers.

By Wednesday the effort seemed to peter out. Sure, there were supporters in t-shirts at the Commission and scattered applause when Howe Caverns was mentioned in the opening statement, but the stone faced commissioners acted more like accountants than emotional cheerleaders for the project. At the end, one of the major concerns was that the Caverns did not complete a basic accounting for how the project would be funded. All of the other work hung on this major error.

Gaming Commission: Howe Caverns Rejected over Financing

Written By Editor on 12/17/14 | 12/17/14

More information is trickling out of the NYS Gaming Commission following its landmark decision to approve a casino project in Schenectady. The Commission released a statement regarding its recommendations, including the fact that the Rivers Casino project was selected unanimously over the Rennselaer and Schoharie projects.

The Commission released a brief statement regarding the two rejected Capital District casino proposals. It noted that the Rennselaer project had considerably less public support than the Schoharie and Schenectady projects.

However, the Commission was deeply concerned about the viability of the Howe Caverns project, considering that the applicant, "provided no commitment or highly confident letters for either its equity or debt financing." In fact, the Commission stated that, "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 Commission also noted that the Howe Caverns project was the only one in which the money needed to complete the process was unclear.

Press Reports: Howe Caverns Casino Winners in Public Hearing

Written By Editor on 9/26/14 | 9/26/14

The public comment period may be over for the four potential casino projects in the area, but that doesn't mean that the rest of Upstate New York has stopped talking about them. The proposals that came before the NYS Gaming Commission had varying levels of public support, but it seemed like Howe Caverns won out, if you believe recent coverage.

The Times Union said that the Caverns project is a clear winner in public opinion:
I'll say this: The supporters of the Howe Caverns proposal have a great case to make for needing a casino's jobs and revenue. Their county, after all, is still recovering from the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Irene three years ago — which only added to its problems with endemic poverty and unemployment.
TWC News also noted the high intensity among supporters, including the Scary Leg Runners' thirty mile run to the hearing:
Meanwhile back on the road, it's the end of the first leg of the relay and with rain beginning to fall spirits remained high. 
"This is what our community is about, just getting out and doing it," said Pamela Newell, who is running part of the relay.
The Cobleskill paper wrote in a similar vein Wednesday:
Heather Marr, a Schoharie native who's worked at Cobleskill Stone for 10 years, said she sees the project as a way to keep young people like herself here. 

"I love it here and I'm lucky that I have a job I love. I don't want to leave. But my friends...Everything's just falling down. There's nothing here for them. This will bring people in. It will be good for the community."
These reports, coupled with Howe Caverns' recent video ad could be seen as wind in the sails of the project.

Rensselear Offers $1 Million Annually for Albany Casino Support

Written By Editor on 8/16/14 | 8/16/14

The City of Rensselear has offered neighboring Albany a large annual payment in exchange for its support of a casino application. Rensselear expects to make $5.8 million annually in casino receipts if accepted-- and Albany would take $1 million of it each year if it backs the casino push. This would total $10 million over ten years and comes after the casino effort in East Greenbush offered a similar $7 million deal for Albany.

These new negotiations were reported in the Times Union. Albany has not responded to the offer but faces a substantial fiscal hole after its only casino proposal moved to Rensselear. The project is worth $280 million total. The East Greenbush project is endorsed by the Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. and Churchill Downs. Any decision from Albany would have to be approved by the City Council.

The Howe Caverns proposal has local support, including Assemblyman Lopez, Congressman Gibson, Sheriff Desmond, and Senator Seward. While the other sites have picked up endorsements from cities such as Rensselear, Albany, Binghamton, Norwich, and Schenectady, the Howe Caverns site has one endorsement from the the Town of Cobleskill.

Caverns Casino Submits Executive Summary

Written By Editor on 7/16/14 | 7/16/14


The New York State Gaming Commission has released the executive summaries of seventeen casino proposals statewide that are vying for just four sites located in specific regions across Upstate New York. Five, including the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino bid, are competing in the Capital Region.


Claiming that, "there is no proposed Gaming Facility in the State that can be underway and built faster than ours," the Howe Caverns summary touts the site's strong community support, its already existing stature as a popular tourist destination, and its position away from other existing facilities, as reasons to be selected. 

Additionally, the executive summary contends that the Howe Caverns site would not just be a casino, but "a regional economic engine" that will create almost five thousand jobs between the construction and operating phases and that the gaming aspect alone would bring in over $131 million in the first year without factoring in other revenue sources. 

Still, it is only one bid out of five the New York State Gaming Commission has to choose from within this region, and besides the still unnamed Amsterdam site; the rest have viable odds of being selected to construct the Capital District's host casino and gaming facility, pending the commission's final decision. 

A full copy of the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino executive summary is available here

Letter to the Editor: Resident Addresses Concerns Over Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 7/13/14 | 7/13/14

Dear Editor:
The non-profit Center for Sustainable Rural Communities does not oppose casino development nor does it oppose the siting of a casino in Schoharie County. While we would prefer the allocation of resources for the revitalization of Schoharie County’s downtowns and other projects that would better enhance the quality of life in our rural communities, we understand the critical need for job creation, the failure thus far of tourism initiatives and the plurality of support for a casino by County residents. That being said, we are concerned about both the viability and impacts of the Howe Caverns proposal and the choice of development partners.
While Howe Caverns representatives sound optimistic when they discuss their chances for approval, the reality is that other applicants may be more favorably positioned because of better vetted and funded partners, proximity to interstate rail lines, airports, existing infrastructure, lodging and other amenities. Additionally, Howe Caverns representatives persist in making inaccurate statements about completed environmental reviews (SEQRA) that purport to underscore the site’s “shovel ready” status but actually cast doubt on the developer’s understanding of the regulatory process and their truthfulness. In short, an environmental review can only be completed for a specific project whose phases, scope, footprint and operating conditions have been clearly defined in a documented site plan. That has not happened and a legitimate and defensible environmental review for a casino project has not been completed despite claims to the contrary by Howe Caverns. Repeating the false assertion that a potentially massive development project has gained environmental approval before it has been fully defined and reviewed does little to support Howe Cavern’s credibility or its chances of gaining a casino license.
Disclosures by Schoharie News that Howe Cavern’s partner in the proposed casino project has a record of financial irregularities, fines, association with a Ponzi scheme and sentencing for domestic violence does little to instill confidence in an application that must be scrutinized and approved by a State Gaming Commission which is highly sensitive to even the appearance of criminality, unethical behavior and/or financial shenanigans.
The recent knee-jerk vote by the Schoharie County Board of Supervisor’s to support a casino proposal without conducting a cultural and economic impact analysis and without full knowledge of the people involved is disheartening. Blog posts by County residents insisting that we should ignore the developer’s troubling history because we are desperate for jobs and a recent editorial in the Times-Journal that infers that the “OK” of a powerful local businessman trumps the disturbing reports of criminal activity, are also disheartening.

What is most disturbing is the potential for a County that has suffered through devastating natural disasters, protracted economic hardship and previous exploitation by unscrupulous developers may yet again face the emotional roller-coaster that comes with the belief in of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that does not exist. There is the potential that when the initial excitement of a proposed casino fades we will have a much clearer view of the hidden costs to a community of ill-conceived plans, false statements and questionable participants. We hope that in the end, the Gaming Commission, local officials and the public make the best decision possible.


Bob Nied
Board of Directors
Center for Sustainable Rural Communities

Poll: Support for Casino Remains High

Written By Editor on 7/12/14 | 7/12/14


Support has fallen for a Howe Caverns Casino, but it remains well above a majority of residents according to our latest Schoharie News survey conducted on the proposed gaming facility. Howe Caverns bid, one of five in the Capital District, is now undergoing review by the New York State Gaming Commission.

With over two hundred votes cast roughly six in ten readers continue to be in support of the local project, while only 27% of residents are opposed, and four percent remain undecided on the subject. Interestingly enough, one in ten are withholding their support unless controversial owner Michael Malik is let go. 

Malik, as it was exclusively reported by the Schoharie News, has a questionable personal and financial background; one that was downplayed by Howe Caverns owner Emil Galasso in the Cobleskill paper's latest edition. 

The poll was open for six days and was located on the right-hand sidebar of the website. 

Opinion: Yes to Casino, No to Malik

Written By Editor on 7/7/14 | 7/7/14


If Howe Caverns is awarded the Capital District's casino site by the New York State Gaming Commission, millions of dollars and hundreds of decent jobs will be created in Schoharie County. Local tax revenues will increase and county tourism is likely to see a significant boost from new patrons. 

These are all reasons why we stand 100% behind the creation and development of a casino in Schoharie County. We may not like the negative societal impacts that will tag along with estimated $450 million project, but the financial advantages are just too great to ignore at this point in time. 

However, we do not stand behind the casino's recently announced owner and operator, Michael J. Malik Sr., who exemplifies everything wrong with the gaming industry today and makes the Howe Caverns bid look just that much unappealing to already queasy residents opposed to the project. 

As we reported last week, Mr. Malik has a laundry list of disturbing actions from his past ranging from child abuse to election fraud and fiscal mismanagement to personal involvement in ponzi schemes. Additionally, he was once disqualified from holding a gaming license in his own state of Michigan in the 1990's. 

Besides our worries over the competency of the Howe Caverns team in selecting Mr. Malik to serve as the public face of the proposed casino, we believe that the morally challenged magnate's further involvement in the bid will ultimately cause it to fail from either lack of local public support or the Gaming Commission's distaste for characters of his nature.  

There is no reason to mince words on this subject, Mr. Malik's involvement in the project will cause it to fail if he remains the proposed owner and operator of the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino. The remedy is apparent for project managers: replace Malik with someone reputable, or be prepared for millions of dollars and hundreds of man hours to be wasted in a futile bid to the state. 

Howe Caverns Casino Owner: A Past of Child Abuse, Election Fraud, Ponzi Scheme Involvement

Written By Editor on 7/2/14 | 7/2/14


The Howe Caverns Resort and Casino announced earlier this week, to much fanfare and media coverage, its formal application filing to the New York State Gaming Commission for consideration of one of the four casino gaming licenses to be awarded this fall in Upstate, New York. 


Additionally, the proposed gaming facility announced that Michael J. Malik Sr. - a nationally known casino developer and founder of MJM Enterprises and Development - will serve as the project's owner and operator in conjunction with Full House Resorts, a development firm. 

However, upon extensive research of Mr. Malik's financial and political background, the Schoharie News has uncovered several disturbing items of note concerning the casino magnate's past dealings; many of which raise serious questions over how he was selected to head the casino project.

Among the more alarming discoveries: 
  • The Fifth Third Bank, a Michigan banking corporation, filed an official complaint against Mr. Malik on February 2nd, 2009 for allegedly failing to repay over $990,000 in monies the defendant borrowed through a line of credit in April of 2007. 
  • In April, 2009 the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a $170,000.00 settlement with Mr. Malik for his role participating in a $2.1 million 2006 Florida based ponzi scheme by John Upstick's Worldwide Entertainment, Inc.
  • California's Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Mr. Malik twice for a total of $10,500 for violating California's political reform laws. The casino magnate reportedly failed to report more than $50,000 in political contributions.
Mr. Malik was also found guilty of firing a weapon too close to occupied residences during a 2007 hunt in Arizona, and he has had thousands returned in political donations he made to New York State officials in the run up to a contentious casino bid on Long Island.

Malik
Perhaps worst of all, Malik was arrested and served a year of probation in 1997 for assaulting his then girlfriend's twelve year old son with a wooden hockey stick. According to The Detroit News, Mr. Malik chased the boy into the street outside the family's home and started beating the child. 

The Michigan Gaming Control Board was at the time investigating Malik and other investors in a local casino project to determine if they had the moral character and business deportment to hold a gaming license. Mr. Malik was later forced to sell his share of the project after the board ruled against him. 

With Howe Caverns $450 million proposal heading to the state for its final decision, it is not known how Mr. Malik's questionable past will affect the casino's odds before the state gaming commission, although it does raise doubts over the project's competency in selecting credible business partners. 

Howe Caverns Casino Submits Application, Announces Owner

Written By Editor on 6/30/14 | 6/30/14


Editor's Note: The Schoharie News was excluded from the casino's original press release blitz, but we were sent a copy of the news from another media outlet to ensure immediate, local coverage of the important announcement. Below is the original release.

Howes Cave, NY – The Howe Caverns Resort and Casino today submitted its formal application to the New York State Gaming Commission for consideration of one of the four casino gaming licenses to be awarded this fall.

The submission of the application makes it official that Howe Caverns Resort and Casino is in the running for a license in the Capital Region.

Howe Caverns Resort and Casino also announced its owner and operator of the proposed resort.

The owner and developer is Michael J. Malik.  Mr. Malik has successfully developed casinos all around the world.  He is a successful entrepreneur in the gaming, sporting and entertainment industries. He initiated his career as a consultant and developer in Indian gaming during the 1980’s.

Since 1988, Mr. Malik has been a pioneer in the casino development industry, including major projects in California, Michigan, and New York.

Outside of the gaming industry, Mr. Malik is the owner of MJM Enterprises and Development.  He is involved in a variety of development projects, including hunting and fishing preserves, financing touring entertainment acts and developing business expansion projects.

Mr. Malik has been a real estate developer and licensed broker for more than 25 years.  He has developed many commercial projects and specializes in resort development, industrial parks, retail shopping malls and urban development. 

“The first time I saw the site, I knew it was a winner,“ Malik said.  “I’ve developed many resort destinations before and this site has all the ingredients needed to be a successful destination resort,” Malik continued.

“I’ve enjoyed learning about Howe Caverns and the Schoharie Community.  I look forward to learning more as we build upon the existing successful tourist attraction, breath taking scenic views, and close proximity to major highway’s, to attract visitors for miles,” Malik concluded.

Howe Caverns Resort and Casino also announced the resort operator will be Full House Resorts, Inc.

Full House Resorts and its management team have a track record of success with gaming projects in Nevada, Michigan, Indiana, Delaware, Oregon, South Dakota, Atlantic City, Louisiana, New South Wales, and Australia.

Full House specializes in regional resorts and has enjoyed much success in developing casino projects similar to the proposed Howe Caverns Resort and Casino.

Full House Resorts is headquartered in Nevada.  One of their original founders is former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca.

“We are pleased to join the team at Howe Caverns Resort and Casino to produce a top-notch resort and casino,” said Andre M. Hilliou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Full House Resorts Inc.

“We look forward to working with Michael Malik, the team at Howe Caverns and the State Gaming Commission to develop a complex that has the potential to become one of New York’s premiere tourist destinations,” Hilliou continued.

Emil Galasso, owner of Howe Caverns said, “I am not only pleased that we were able to attract two of the best partners in the industry, but these are good people who will be a benefit to the entire Schoharie Community.”

“All along, I have held that we have the best site with the most potential to develop a successful resort and casino in the entire region, today, our chances got even better,” Galasso concluded.

The proposed resort includes a world class gaming facility with a 10-floor luxury hotel along with a contemporary waterpark and a second hotel.  The resort will include a number of dining opportunities including a fine dining restaurant.

The proposed project also includes the addition of a dinosaur theater as an added attraction at Howe Caverns.  The resort is anchored by the existing adventure attractions at the historic Howe Caverns.

The next phase will be to demonstrate to the New York State Casino Location Board that the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino is deserving of one of the four potential licenses.

With 330 acres of REAL shovel ready land that has a fully completed SEQRA study and on-site water and sewer capacity, the Howe Caverns Resort and Casino is well positioned to quickly develop from initial approval to grand opening.  

It is also the only site to include an existing tourist attraction.  Howe Caverns, the second oldest natural attraction in New York State, welcomes over 200,000 visitors each year.

Gaming, a waterpark, fine dining, and luxury accommodations will compliment the existing Howe Caverns adventure attractions drawing visitors from all across the U.S.

Most importantly, the proposed development also has the potential for the greatest positive impact on a community.  Suffering from a struggling economy, one of the highest unemployment rates in the state and continued recovery from devastating floods, Schoharie County stands to see a greater economic impact than any other potential location.

Built on a modern business model that relies on bringing new money into the region and state and not just recirculating existing dollars, the resort will grow Schoharie County tourism to the level of the Cooperstown/Otsego County area creating a regional tourism powerhouse that will benefit the entire State. 

Cobleskill Town Board Unanimously Backs Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 5/30/14 | 5/30/14

Cobleskill, NY - In a crystal clear and decisive statement of support, the Cobleskill Town Board unanimously passed a resolution backing a casino to be specifically sited at Howe Caverns.

“We are pleased to continue to show unprecedented community support for our project.  I would venture to say that we have the most community support of  any proposal in the region and possibly the State,” said Emil Galasso, President of Howe Caverns Development Corporation.

The specific resolution, undoubtedly favoring the Howe Caverns Casino, is one of the required steps in the process to be considered for selection by New York State.  The resolution also mentions several additional benefits and reasons for New York State to select the Howe Caverns site.

Calling Howe Caverns “a true destination” and “an important historic landmark,” the resolution states that the Town of Cobleskill Board believes that bringing a casino to Howe Caverns will be “economically transformational for a region that suffered Hurricanes Irene and Lee.”

The Howe Caverns Casino proposal is consistent with the Governor's stated goals to target areas in need and build destination resorts in communities that express local support.  I think it is becoming clearer each day that Howe Caverns is the best site with least obstacles for the quick, successful development of a casino,” Galasso said.

“We have a great location, we have ample space ready to built on, and we have overwhelming support.  Why would New York State choose another site, when the community here welcomes this development?” Galasso continued.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842.  In 2007, businessmen Emil Galasso and Charles Wright purchased Howe Caverns and since that time, have updated the original facility and added outdoor attractions such as the Howe High Adventure Park. 

Howe Caverns sits on a beautiful mountainside with spectacular views overlooking the Helderberg Plateau.  It is located just off Interstate 88, about 30 minutes from Oneonta and Cooperstown to the west, and 30 minutes from Albany to the east and 2.5 hours from NYC. 

Casino Hearing Tonight in Cobleskill

Written By Editor on 5/12/14 | 5/12/14


Members of the public will have the opportunity to address their concerns on the proposed Howe Caverns Casino to Cobleskill Town Supervisor Leo McAllister and the rest of the town board in a public hearing scheduled for 8:00 p.m. this evening at the local firehouse. 

Mr. McAllister, who initially opposed any casino coming into the county, has been a staunch advocate for the public having input on this controversial issue. Although his position that only Cobleskill residents could speak at tonight's hearing has ruffled some in the community.

The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities blasted that decision in an e-mail sent to the municipality and press last week, claiming the restriction violates the New York Open Meeting Law and that the casino "has the potential for impacting the broader community in both positive and negative ways."

Howe Caverns Site Ahead of Curve on Environmental Study

Written By Editor on 5/3/14 | 5/3/14

Cobleskill, NY – During the mandatory meeting of the 22 interested parties looking to be approved to build one of four casinos in New York State, the repeated concern of the day was the ability to meet the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). 

“It became clear at the meeting that several potential developers are concerned over meeting the requirements and doing so in a timely fashion.  Howe Caverns has already completed a SEQR review giving us a leg up as a true ready to build site for a casino,” Emil Galasso, President of Howe Caves Development Corporation, said.

A SEQR review requires the sponsoring or approving governmental body to identify and mitigate the significant environmental impacts of the activity it is proposing or permitting. This process can take upwards of 18 months.

This becomes of serious concerns to potential casino developers and operators as licensees can be fined for failing to open for gambling within two years of getting a license, and must declare any obstacles to completing the environmental review.

“Time and again, we have shown that Howe Caverns is one of the premier sites in New York to build a casino.  We have over 330 acres of true shovel ready land that can be built on immediately.  This includes the cumbersome and time consuming SEQR review.” Galasso said.

Our proposal is consistent with the Governor's stated goals to target areas in need and build destination resorts in communities that express local support.  I think it is becoming clearer each day that Howe Caverns is the best site with least obstacles for the quick, successful development of a casino,” Galasso continued.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842.  In 2007, businessmen Emil Galasso and Charles Wright purchased Howe Caverns and since that time, have updated the original facility and added outdoor attractions such as the Howe High Adventure Park. 

Howe Caverns sits on a beautiful mountainside with spectacular views overlooking the Helderberg Plateau.  It is located just off Interstate 88, about 30 minutes from Oneonta and Cooperstown to the west, and 30 minutes from Albany to the east and 2.5 hours from NYC. 

Hosting Casino Would Bring Millions in State Aid, Funding to Schoharie County

Written By Editor on 4/28/14 | 4/28/14


The stakes just got that much higher. 

According to a document published on Schoharie County's official website, whether the Howe Caverns site is selected to host the Capital District's regional casino or not, local counties are in line to receive millions in school funding, property tax relief, and government aid.

However, the true jackpot is in hosting the gaming facility, where the home county is projected to receive over $11.4 million in additional revenue. To put that in perspective, that would be the equivalent of funding 15% of Schoharie County's 2014 $71.9 million public budget from just one source. 

As current calculations stand, Schoharie County would receive just under $1 million in funding regardless of where the casino is located, the smallest amount in the entire Capital District by half a million and barely one-sixth of Albany County's projected take home figures. 

Howe Caves Development Corporation recently anted up $1,000,000 in their own funds to move forward with the state application process, signaling the resolve of Schoharie County's local site to be fairly and seriously considered for the gaming facility. 

All eight counties will walk away from the process with something to show for, but only one will be able to cash in their chips because in poker, the house always wins. 

Howe Caverns Antes Up $1,000,000 Casino Application Fee

Written By Editor on 4/23/14 | 4/23/14

Cobleskill, NY – Howe Caves Develop Corporation, today, submitted the $1,000,000 application fee as the next step in a bid to secure a casino at its Schoharie County location.

Emil Galasso, President of Howe Caves Development Corporation, said he believes that at every step in the process Howe Caverns is showing to be a serious contender with the best site for a potential casino in this region.

“Today, we are sorting out - who is in and who is out. When the smoke clears we are confident that operators will recognize the tremendous potential of our shovel ready site - uniquely suited to be a destination location for families throughout the region.  Our proposal is consistent with the Governor's stated goals to target areas in need and build destination resorts in communities that express local support. It will be clear to operators that we are the only site that has all of these qualities in the Capital Region,” Galasso said.

“We have overwhelming public support, we have the support of our County Board and we have the support of key officials who have addressed safety and traffic concerns,” Galasso added.

43 million people live within 3-hours of the proposed site, with an already existing attendance of 150,000 people per year to Howe Caverns and 400,000 tourist to the region each year.

“With over 330 acres of shovel ready land, a new water and sewer project near completion, a connection of Interstate and State Highways, and the close proximity to several metropolitan areas, Howe Caverns is the perfect site for one of New York’s seven casinos,” Galasso said. 

“Howe Caverns is also the only site that offers a built in attraction with pre approved plans for future development such as a hotel and water park,” Galasso continued.

The pre approval includes completed traffic, geological and environmental studies allowing for immediate construction and development at the Howe Caverns site, the 2nd largest natural attraction in New York behind only Niagara Falls.

Galasso also referenced Governor Cuomo’s desire that casinos be sited in economically depressed areas to help spur economic development and create jobs.

Schoharie County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.  County residents have also been faced with the devastation from two recent flooding disasters stemming from Hurricanes Lee and Irene.  

“I believe when you look at all the factors put forth in the State’s application process, Howe Caverns more than meets the criteria and is located in a community deserving of the potential economic revitalization,” Galasso said.

Howe Caverns has been in operation since 1842.  In 2007, businessmen Emil Galasso and Charles Wright purchased Howe Caverns and since that time, have updated the original facility and added outdoor attractions such as the Howe High Adventure Park.  

Howe Caverns sits on a beautiful mountainside with spectacular views overlooking the Helderberg Plateau.  It is located just off Interstate 88, about 30 minutes from Oneonta and Cooperstown to the west, and 30 minutes from Albany to the east and 2.5 hours from NYC.  

Opinion: We Say Yes to the Howe Caverns Casino

Written By Editor on 4/17/14 | 4/17/14


After carefully considering the project, the Schoharie News has come to the same conclusion as most county residents: we need the Howe Caverns Casino proposal to succeed in order to stimulate economic growth and local employment in Schoharie County.


As editor of this publication, I will be the first to admit my personal vote against the statewide referendum last November on the question of whether New York State should permit the construction of gaming venues outside the Indian Reservations.

My reasoning was two-fold, as I hold strong moral objections to gambling in principle and I believed that we shouldn't compete against the interests of existing facilities, due to the unemployment disparities that already existed in those areas. 

However, after the announcement of Howe Caverns interest in hosting a potential casino and the debate that followed, it has become harder to oppose the concept when we have over one thousand residents jobless in the latest unemployment report with seemingly no viable options to reverse the county's long-term plunge into the economic abyss. 

Sure, there are lingering concerns over the societal and infrastructural impacts of having a casino located in Howes Cave, but local officials ranging from Sheriff Desmond to Public Works head Dan Crandell have publicly announced their support for the project, while discounting the arguments that directly target their areas of expertise. 

In the end, all we can do in Schoharie County is show New York State our support for building a casino in our community, and if we can help push the proposal get a little bit closer to that goal-line, we'll be in better shape for it. 

County Commissioner: Schoharie Casino to Have Little Impact on Traffic

Written By Editor on 4/15/14 | 4/15/14

Cobleskill, NY – Schoharie County Commissioner of Public Works, Dan Crandell, has expressed his support for building a casino in the County citing that he believes it will have little impact on local traffic and quality of life for residents.  
“The infrastructure of Schoharie County is poised to handle this type of growth and development with little problem.  This would be a welcomed attraction to help stimulate our local economy and create jobs,” Crandell said. 
Crandell also specifically referred to the proposal of a casino near Howe Caverns, saying that additional traffic will not be a concern. 
“The proposed site is currently located in the Northeastern portion of the county which has always been the more industrial part of Schoharie County.  This will ensure the integrity of the more rural parts of the county,” Crandell said. 
“Howe Caverns currently sees over150,000 visitors each year.  The site handles car and bus traffic without any problem now and the direct connection from Interstate 88 to State Highways 7, 10, 30, 30A, as well as State Highway 20 will allow for increased traffic with minimal impact on local roads, “ Crandell continued. 
Crandell also pointed out the positive impact a casino in Schoharie County could have on the entire region. 
“With the existing solid infrastructure of highways and roads connecting Schoharie to surrounding counties, the entire region can benefit from increased tourism and economic growth.  In fact, Schoharie County may be the best suited location when it comes to handling increased traffic flow and having minimal impact on residents,” Crandell concluded.

Letter to the Editor: Resident Questions County's Reversal on Casino

Written By Editor on 4/3/14 | 4/3/14


Dear Editor,

I was wondering what kind of pitch the representatives from Howe Caverns gave the supervisors for them to make a complete 360 and vote "yes" for a casino. They voted "no" just last month. 

Could it be that the main player in the game is Chris Tague? He wears many hats in Schoharie County. Mr. Tague is General Manager of Cobleskill Stone and also the representative and spokesman for Howe Caverns. Another hat he wears is for the Republican Party of Schoharie County. He is the Vice Chairman.

That concerns this taxpayer very much as the Republicans hold a majority on the board. It just might be a conflict of interest. I hate to say it, but it looks like the Good Ole Boys are at it again. 


Jerry Fiore

The Best of the Summer

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