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Amsterdam officials hedge bets after casino flops
AMSTERDAM -- It wasn't in the cards. The New York Gaming commission unanimously denied a Canada-based developers' application for a $250 million resort casino in Montgomery County.
Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane called the casino "the last glimmer of hope" for the economically-ailing city and people who supported the casino coming to the area are disappointed.
But Amsterdam Director of Community and Economic Development Robert von Hasseln is more optimistic.
"I think the future for Montgomery County and Amsterdam as a unit is looking up," von Hasseln said. "The county, the city, the towns all worked together very hard to try to give this the best shot possible."
But the New York Gaming Board cited the numerous sections of the license application that were left unanswered as well as the Canada-based developers' inability to pay the full $50 million licensing fee.
"Their strategy was, 'We'll go into this and if we don't have something we're entirely sure of we won't put it into the product, into the application,'" von Hasseln said. "We're disappointed. They did come in late into the process."
But von Hasseln says the applications denial might actually lead to more offers for the community.
"The people who came into the county and the city to learn about this and to put this package together they know now what a great location we have. They are telling their co-workers and their colleagues about it and we're not even necessarily sure that we are done with these investors. It's not going to be the casino but it could be something else," von Hasseln said.
According to the New York State Division of the Budget if the casino is approved in one of the four other capital region communities-- which include Cobleskill, East Greenbush, Rensselaer and Schenectady-- Montgomery County will still get to take an estimated $900,000 a year to the bank.
"And as our county exec. pointed out very wisely this morning, we need to look at that and say, 'Let's not just put that in the general fund and spend it on whatever. Let's put that aside and use it as an economic development tool,'" von Hasseln said.