Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a celebratory tour of upstate communities set to host Las Vegas-style casinos on Thursday, a day after the state picked three winning projects.
Cuomo visited Schenectady and Sullivan counties, but bad weather forced him to skip Seneca County. He told excited local residents and leaders that the new facilities have the potential to provide jobs, tourism and a shot at economic revival.
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In Schenectady, Cuomo praised plans for the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor, saying it will transform blighted riverfront land while reinvigorating the once mighty manufacturing city. One labor leader welcomed him as "Santa Claus."
Cuomo, a Democrat, told people in the crowd they should thank themselves for rallying behind the $300 million project and seeing it through.
"You make your own destiny," he said. "You gave yourselves a beautiful Christmas present. It was long overdue."
The state also picked the $630 million Montreign Resort Casino in Sullivan County in the Catskills and the $425 million Lago Resort & Casino in the Finger Lakes town of Tyre in Seneca County.
The three projects are expected to support more than 3,200 full-time jobs and generate $265 million in tax revenues and $136 million in licensing fees. Developers hope to break ground as early as next year after the licenses are formally awarded. The facilities could open within two years.
"We're ready to dig," Lago director Thomas Wilmot said.
The state will complete final reviews of the project, including background checks of those involved, before issuing the licenses.