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Casino dream shaky for Sullivan

By Fritz Mayer
June 11, 2014

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Four projects had applied for a class-three gaming license in Sullivan County; now one of those establishments has backed out of the running completely and another is weighing its options. Both organizations cite competition from a possible Orange County casino as the cause of concern.

The Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohicans, which claims cultural ties to the county, has been trying for 15 years, in partnership with Trading Cove New York, to open a casino on the banks of the Neversink River in Bridgeville. On June 6, the tribe formally announced it was pulling the application because it seemed unlikely that the tribe could obtain a license.

Len Walman, managing member of Trading Cove and Wallace Miller, president of the tribe, issued a joint statement saying, “Trading Cove and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community have concluded, after careful review, that the possibility, maybe even the likelihood, of a destination resort with gaming in Orange County so dilutes the market in Sullivan County that building and sustaining a first-class resort in Sullivan is not financially feasible for us.”

The news prompted a quick reaction from Bill Reiber, supervisor of the Town of Thompson, who said in a statement,

“The Town of Thompson deeply regrets this decision. We were supportive of the Trading Cove application and have enjoyed a great relationship with Mr. Wolman for some 15 years. We have concerns that the decision to keep Orange County in the mix will make it more difficult for the three remaining projects in Sullivan County to obtain financing to move their deals forward.”

Rieber further said, “We call upon Gov. Cuomo to use his immense power of persuasion to cut the Orange County juggernaut off at the knees before we lose any more gaming developers.”

One of the remaining developers is the group that proposes building a casino on the site of the former Grossinger’s Hotel in Liberty. Also on June 5, John Gallagher, a spokesmen for the group that proposed a Foxwoods Catskills Resort, said the possibility that a license may go to an Orange County project has made it difficult to secure guaranteed financing before the June 30 application deadline. He said the group was weighing its options.

That, in turn, prompted a letter to constituents and public statement from Charlie Barbuti, supervisor of the Town of Liberty. Barbuti wrote suggesting that because of the financing issues, a project should be allowed to submit “contingent” applications to the site-selection board.