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March 22, 2014

Schoharie County joins casino competition

By Joe Mahoney Staff writer
The Daily Star

---- — The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors reversed itself Friday and voted 13 to 3 to support the development of a casino in Schoharie County. 

The vote came after representatives of the Howes Cave Development Corporation outlined their plan to bring in a developer to open a casino near the site of the Howe Caverns tourist attraction located a short distance from Interstate 88. The company has had some interest from a potential partner, the Wilmorite Corp., insiders told The Daily Star.  

“Today is a great day for the people of Schoharie County,” said Chris Tague, spokesman for the Howes Cave Development Corporation. “We are very pleased and excited about the outcome. This brings our plan one step closer to reality and now allows us the opportunity to showcase our site in Schoharie County as the premiere location for a casino along with other total family entertainment and attractions.”

The vote puts Schoharie County in competition with several other proposed projects in New York’s Capital Region that are lining up to convince state officials that they have the best plan for a casino. Under legislation passed last year, the region would get one casino. Emil Galasso, whose company owns Howe Caverns, said the  330-acre shovel ready site makes it the most appealing contender in the region.

Water testing, traffic counts and archaeological studies have already taken place. Howes Cavern has also recently partnered with Schoharie County in a $9 million water and sewer upgrade project on their site which is near completion.

“Our site already contains a world renown tourist attraction and is already cleared for the addition of a hotel and water theme park. We also have plenty of room to grow with possibilities for shopping and golfing all while situated in one of the most beautiful valleys in New York State,” Tague said. “The addition of a casino would truly make Howe Caverns and Schoharie County a world class family destination,” Tague said.

The Schoharie vote took place on the same day that a new plan emerged in Albany County, with Rochester developer David Flaum proposing a gambling hall on property near Exit 23 of the state Thruway that is owned by the family of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY. That plan would also involve the Capital Region Off Track Betting Corp. 

The push to get Schoharie County involved in the competition for a casino has been led by Schohaire Town Supervisor Gene Milone, a Democrat, who has suggested the county needs such a facility to help it revive the local economy.

Tague said the next step is to devise a plan with help from developers.  “We have reached out to over 16 casino developers and are currently having serious conversations with more people every day,” Tague said.