Developer vying for Amsterdam casino site

A Toronto-based developer wants to build a casino on land near the Thruway in Montgomery County.

The developer filed a $1 million application fee with a state agency Wednesday.

Clairvest Group Inc., a private equity management firm, has previous experience in the casino industry with gaming license approvals in Canada, the United States and Chile.

The group says it’s “never been turned down from a gaming license application.”

Clairvest was among the developers that met Wednesday’s deadline to submit application fees to build casinos in upstate New York. The pitches came 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.

Peter Marcil, a managing director investment banker for New York City-based Bentley Associates, is working as Clairvest’s investment banker for Montgomery County’s casino project.

Marcil, an Amsterdam native, said he was interested in bringing a casino to the area.

“I was born in Amsterdam and grew up in Amsterdam,” Marcil said. “Being in the gaming industry, I was paying a lot of attention to what was going on in New York state. When Saratoga looked like it was running into resistance, I reached out to [Montgomery County Business Development Director] Ken Rose because I knew he had a site. We did some work and looked into the site and then I brought the opportunity to Clairvest.”

The county has been working with Marcil and Clairvest since February. The site, which was promoted by Mick Mullins of Mullins Realty, is a pair of properties off Route 30. The land totals about 512 acres – 341 acres in the city of Amsterdam and 171 in the town of Florida.

Now that the application fee has been sent to the state Gaming Commission, Marcil said, the next step is a mandatory applicant conference Wednesday in Albany with the Gaming Commission. After the conference, applicants will be provided with more information about the license process in early May.

Marcil said Clairvest is waiting to receive more information from the state before disclosing details of its plans.

After applicants are provided with more information from the state in May, their applications will be due June 30. After applications are turned in and reviewed, the applicants will have to give oral presentations on their casino proposals July 21, then in the early fall, casino sites will officially be selected.

Marcil said he’s excited to work on this project and he thinks a casino would thrive in the area.

“Not only was I raised in Amsterdam, but my father, Edward Marcil, was the Perth [school] superintendent for many years,” he said. “A casino would have many positive effects for the entire region, let alone Fulton and Montgomery counties.”

The field of contenders vying to build casinos came into focus Wednesday.

Among other proposals from developers are a Las Vegas-style casino 50 miles from New York City, modern casinos built on the sites of Borscht Belt resorts, and a casino near Howe Caverns.

Several developers and casino operators involved in the projects told The Associated Press they submitted the $1 million fee because they’re confident their proposal will win out in the fall, when the 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, 50 miles north of New York City and near the sprawling Woodbury Commons shopping center.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway is looking at two locations: Newburgh, some 60 miles north of New York City, and East Greenbush, across the Hudson River from Albany. Spokeswoman Rita Cox said her company submitted a $1 million application fee that will cover either possibility. The casino and raceway – which operates slot machines and electronic table games – dropped plans for a full-scale casino in Saratoga after running into local opposition.

The owners of Howe Caverns in Schoharie County are pitching a proposal to build a casino on 330 acres. Emil Galasso, president of the development corporation behind the project, notes that Schoharie County has one of the state’s highest unemployment rates. Plus, they have a cave.

“Today, we are sorting out who is in and who is out,” Galasso said Wednesday in a statement. ” … 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.”

In the Southern Tier, Traditions at the Glen resort and conference center has put forward plans for a $150 million casino. Other proposals come from Tioga Downs Casino and racetrack in Nichols and the Wilmorite real estate development firm, which is pitching a bid for a $350 million casino and resort in Tyre.

“We are full speed ahead and we are definitely in it to win it,”said company chairman Thomas Wilmot Sr.

Genting Group, which operates the Resorts World Casino New York City at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, announced Wednesday that it has paid an application fee – but has not yet settled on a location. The Malaysia-based company said in a statement that it is considering “multiple potential sites” in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley areas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.