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June 5, 2014

Cavern owner bullish on casino

COBLESKILL — From his office perched on a bluff overlooking verdant Schoharie Valley, Emil Galasso has been courting movers and shakers in the international casino industry, seeking to stir up interest in a site he contends is ideal for one of four new casinos that state officials are expected to authorize this fall.

He has been at this for weeks now. But the 68-year-old businessman, who has been involved in the stone quarry and construction industry for a lifetime aside from a stint in the U.S. Army, said he never viewed himself as the frontrunner. Just one license will be handed out in a region that stretches from Schoharie County to Washington County, and runs east across Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.

But neither has he ever discounted his chances of success, Galasso said.

In fact, in recent days, he said, he is very bullish about his prospects of locating a casino adjacent to Howe Caverns, the attraction owned by his company Howe Caves Development LLC.

Just how infectious Galasso’s belief in his own proposal is remains to be seen.

But he’s getting decision-makers in the casino business to return his calls, and as of last count, he said, he now has four companies interested in partnering with him in a project that would not only include a casino but also a dinosaur park, a recreational vehicle park, a new hotel and seasonal recreational attractions.

“I’m feeling much better about everything, and much more confident that people are really taking a hard look at us and doing their due diligence,” Galasso said.

“I think the interest has got to be somewhat serious on their part to be spending the kind of money they have been,” he said. “They’ve hired consultants. They’ve had vehicles back and forth, clocking the drive times throughout the Capital Region, and they’re finding that to be favorable.”

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