NY works to finish background checks, environmental reviews before work begins on 3 casinos

Work on new casinos planned for upstate New York won't begin until environmental reviews and casino executive background checks are completed — but state officials said Monday they're moving as quickly as they can.

Developers of the projects say they are anxious to get to work after a state board chose them from among 16 casino proposals last week. The three are Montreign in Sullivan County in the Catskills, Lago in Seneca County in the Finger Lakes and Rivers casino in Schenectady.

It's likely to be at least several weeks before construction can begin. Potential legal challenges from unsuccessful casino bidders or local residents could delay the process further.

The developers of Rivers hope to begin work early next year. The team behind Lago says it has already started clearing its site so construction can begin as soon as the state awards the licenses.

"Our intention is to get Lago built and operating as quickly as possible in early 2016," said Thomas Wilmot Sr., director of the Lago Resort & Casino.

At a state Gaming Commission meeting on Monday, commission Executive Director Robert Williams said the state has already begun working on the detailed regulations that need to be in place before the licenses can be formally handed over.

In addition, environmental reviews of the casino sites must be completed, and the state police must wrap up their background investigations of casino executives.

"The Commission will issue licenses as quickly as possible in a responsible manner," said Lee Park, a spokesman for the commission.