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April 23, 2014

Howe Caverns owner is betting on casino project|

Howe Caverns Development Chief Executive Officer Emil Galasso said Tuesday that he will today wire $1 million to a special state account in order to meet the filing deadline for proposed casino projects authorized in a state referendum last November.

The transmittal of the money effectively gives Galasso a seat at the table while he tries to nail down an agreement with a developer who would operate the casino proposed for a 330-acre tract adjacent to the Howe Caverns tourist attraction, located near Exit 22 of Interstate 88.

“We do have a legitimate site that is shovel ready,” Galasso said.

The money would be refundable if a full application for a casino license is not filed by the June 30 deadline, he said.

Galasso said he expects to know within a week whether the company that has expressed interest in the Howe Caverns site will be willing to move forward with the project. He declined to identify the concern, saying discussions were in a sensitive stage.

The project would be competing with three other proposed casinos in the region: a site in East Greenbush recently purchased by the partners involved in the Saratoga Casino and Raceway, James Featherstonhaugh, a veteran Albany lobbyist, and businessman Daniel Gerrity; an Albany site located near Exit 23 of the state Thruway that is promoted by Rochester developer David Flaum and is on land owned by the family of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY; and a site that straddles the city of Amsterdam and town of Florida in Montgomery County that has won the blessings of Montgomery County officials.

Galasso said he believes the Howe Cavern proposal would be given strong consideration by a state casino siting board because Schoharie County needs a substantial economic development boost, which is the very intention of those who promoted the casino referendum last year.

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