The casino referendum passed 57.8% to 42.2%, pacing the way for seven upstate non-native casinos. Two of those slots are reserved for the Catskills. Competition among casino developers will be fierce for those two licenses. The state Gaming Commission will begin taking applications at the beginning of 2014, with decisions expected later in the year.
It's not a slam dunk that Sullivan will get one of the slots, even though many think that Empire Resorts' plans for a casino at the old Concord Hotel site in Kiamesha is the horse to beat. A likely scenario is that there will be one casino in the old Borscht Belt of the western Catskills (Sullivan and western Ulster), with interests associated with the Concord, Grossingers and Nevele sites battling it out, with the second casino sited further east near the Thruway to entice north south traffic. A big purpose of this casino expansion is to generate tax revenues, and a casino near I-87 could be a winner on that count.