Casino developers seek lower fee

FONDA – Developers for the proposed Exit 27 casino will need the state to make changes to its application process or they will not pursue the project.

During Monday night’s presentation at the Florida Town Hall, developers presented a plan that would require several changes to the state’s request for application, or RFA, in order for the proposed development to be put forward.

“Without amendments to the RFA the proposed development will not be put forward on June 30,” the developers said in information about the project.

“Required investment and operating costs with anticipated gross gaming revenue for the location do not support the development of a gaming destination,” according to the information.

The $250 million casino resort plan would include slot machines, gaming tables, a hotel, villas and golf courses in three phases of development on land in the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam. The project would create 453 temporary construction jobs and 850 permanent casino jobs, the developers say.

At Monday night’s meeting, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said the state set a very high minimum spending amount and license fee that create an economic threshold challenge for the proposed casino.

Ossenfort said the developers will ask for a reduction in licensing fees – which are paid to the state by potential developers – to $25 million from the state’s mandated $50 million for Capital Region projects. Developers are looking for the state to increase the casino’s tax rate to the state from 45 percent to 48 percent, in order for the state to recoup the reduced license fee.

“We are not asking the state to take one penny less,” Ossenfort said. “We are just asking for a timeline that fits into the economics of this area.”

The Capital Region is the only region without lower license fee options. The New York State Gaming commission has given other regions contingencies for lower license fees.

Ossenfort said Montgomery County is being treated as if it has the same demographics and economics as Albany and Renesselaer Counties.

“We do not have those economics and we do not fit into that model,” Ossenfort said.

The developers – Clairvest Group, Great Canadian Gaming Corp and Financial District Properties – are looking for the state to increase the casino’s tax rate to the state from 45 percent to 48 percent, in order for the state to recoup the reduced license fee.

Also in the proposed amendments, the group seeks to confirm that the 300 residential units will be included in the minimum spending required for casino projects.

According to information from the developers, they are also seeking the state to “require a direct additional contribution to the host county and municipalities of 2 percent of gross gaming revenue in excess of $135 million.”

The developers will seek an extension – for all counties – of 60 days from June 30 to put in applications for projects, Ossenfort said.

The city of Amsterdam mayor’s office said the Common Council approved a resolution supporting the casino Tuesday. The town of Florida also passed a resolution supporting the casino Monday.

The county legislature moved forward a resolution supporting the casino on Tuesday during the budget and finance committee meeting. The resolution is not required for the project to go forward.

The resolution states that legislators have been receiving calls and emails of support about the project.

District 6 Legislator John Duchessi said he was at Monday night’s meeting and had never seen the public so supportive of a project.

Ossenfort said this morning county leaders will ask the gaming commission to make the requested changes. He said they hope to meet with the commission by the end of the week.