N.Y. Legislature OK’s Gaming Tax Cut to Push $1B Catskills Entertainment Deal

The New York State legislature has voted to cut taxes on video gaming machines, a move that paves the way for a $1 billion entertainment city and gaming development at the site of the Concord Hotel in Monticello, in Sullivan County, N.Y. State, county, and city officials hope the development will ignite a tourism renaissance in the region. Once the largest of the Catskill resorts, which rose to fame in the mid-twentieth century, the 1,600-acre Concord Hotel fell into disrepair when the popularity of the region faded. In its heyday, the resort attracted thousands of tourists, and entertainers such as Jerry Lewis and Harry Belafonte lined up to perform at the Concord as eagerly as today’s entertainers covet gigs in Las Vegas. Cappelli Enterprises in Valhalla, N.Y. and Empire Resorts of Henderson, Nev., have joined forces to redodevelop the property. According to a prepared statement issued by Cappelli and Empire Resorts, the new development will feature a 750-room hotel, a boutique hotel and a spa; A 7,500-seat event center; a convention center; a 100,000 square feet of retail; a 5/8th mile harness race track, 3,000 video gaming machines and access to two golfcourses, among other amenities. Despite the demise of the original Catskill resorts, tourism remains the second largest industry in Sullivan County, second only to agriculture, according to the 2008 State-of-the-County Address given by Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Jonathan F. Rouis. In his address, Rouis said, referring to the Concord project: “This type of an ‘Entertainment City’ would create hundreds of permanent jobs and bring millions of dollars in revenue into Sullivan County each year.” The enabling legislation enacted by the state legislature this week requires the project to create at least 2,000 permanent jobs and to contribute $38 million a year to the state’s education coffers.