The minimum capital investment to open a casino in a region stretching from Schoharie County to Saratoga County was set Monday at $135 million by the state Gaming Facility Location Board.
That sum is an amount that bodes well for the proposed casino at the site of the Howe Caverns tourist attraction off Exit 22 of Interstate 88, near Cobleskill, said Emil Galasso, the president of Howes Caves Development LLC and the man behind the gaming facility push.
One large obstacle remains, however: Galasso said the proposal will need to have a casino developer join forces with his company, and while conversations are taking place behind the scenes with potential partners, no deal has been struck.
“Given that we now know the minimum investment is $135 million, I think our potential partners are going to be giving our site a very hard look,” Galasso told The Daily Star. “There are no guarantees at this point. But that’s an amount that brings us one step closer.”
He declined to identify the potential partners.
His proposal is competing against proposed sites in Albany, East Greenbush and near Amsterdam in Montgomery County.
Galasso said his site would face the least complications in terms of getting needed environmental approvals, as it already has water and sewer connections.
He said even if his proposal does not go forward, there is a possibility that one developer would work with his company to open a water park adjacent to Howe Caverns. Part of the vision also includes a new hotel on the property, he said.
The casino siting board released three separate minimum sums for a seven-county area that covers the Catskills, stretching as far west as Delaware County and as far south as Orange County, the closest county eligible for a casino license to New York City. There are no casino proposals for Delaware County, however.
For Dutchess or Orange County, the minimum investment would be $350 million. If no license is awarded to one of those counties, the sum required for the remaining five counties would be $130 million. If a license is awarded in Dutchess or Orange counties, then the sum for the other five counties for the one remaining license would be $100 million.