New York Community College Approves Second Casino Degree As Rivers Casino Opening Looms

Believe it or not, you can major in gambling at Schenectady County Community College (SCCC), where students can choose the casino and gaming management degree path. This past week, however, the school’s Board of Trustees reportedly approved a second gaming-industry degree: business administration-casino. The college has yet to make available the minutes from the May 16 trustees meeting in which the new program was put forth. An agenda posted on the college’s trustees page indicates the new program was on the schedule for discussion, as well as the reappointment of Kim Otis, an instructor of casino and gaming management, and Dr. Penny Hayes, vice president of Academic Affairs and the faculty member who spoke with the press following the board’s decision. Linked to 2017 opening of Rivers Casino and Resort Hayes said the decision comes at a crucial time in their casino-industry department. Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based casino operator, is building a $330 million casino just a mile from the SCCC campus. The casino, named Rivers Casino and Resort, is slated to launch early next year, bringing with it about 1,200 new jobs. New program details are sparse Hayes said the framework of the new degree resulted from discussions with Rush Street. “After talking with Rush Street Gaming, they also want us to have a program with a finance approach,” Hayes told the Albany Business Review. “We really modeled (the proposed program) after our current business administrative program, with a few changes.” Hayes did not elaborate on the details of the degree program, though the Business Review was able to report that the new coursework will include casino-specific accounting and finance curriculum. Existing program focuses on broad management issues The existing program, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Casino and Gaming Management, offers students:
Adequate knowledge and skills for professional positions in the gaming industry.
Six new courses dedicated to casino gaming management.
A required, industry-specific internship.
Core courses that include overviews of casino management, operations, security, surveillance as well as regulatory requirements. Instructor Kim Otis is quoted as saying on the SCCC website that the 60-credit program is “working toward having these students focus on responsible gaming, current industry practices and the broad picture of hospitality as their foundation.” Casino accepting applications for employment According to the Rivers Casino website, Rush Street is already accepting resumes for certain positions related to SCCC’s existing gaming degree as well as the proposed degree:
Director of Security
Director of Surveillance
Finance Controller
Senior Accountant
Accountant Program needs further approval Though the job openings at Rivers seem tailored for the new degree program, SCCC students won’t have their new degrees in time to fill finance- and accounting-related positions. According to the Albany Business Review, SCCC’s second casino degree must be approved by the State University of New York and the New York State Education Department. The community college isn’t the only educational institution in the state with casino-related degrees. Morrisville State College, Broome Community College and the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute also offer gaming/casino management programs. The latter two, however, only offer “certificates” which require 15 and 26 hours of coursework, respectively.

Alleged Mafia Man Arrested For Supposed Operation Of Illegal Sports Betting Site

1 A $13 million operation
2 Network extended to Costa Rica, DA says
3 Details of Castelle’s alleged accomplices
4 Castelle a familiar face for authorities A photo from the arraignment of alleged Lucchese crime family member Eugene “Boopsie” Castelle shows him cuffed and happy as he walks through the Brooklyn Supreme Court building. On any other day, he’d look like a normal guy. On this day, however, he faced charges of leading an illegal gambling site called A $13 million operation According to numerous reports, the supposed mobster was part of a six-man ring who took home more than $13 million from their site. Though Castelle and his men are dealing with the charges, the website still appears to be functioning. The home page features a somewhat outdated design – green background, two different “Stake Stake” logos, a banner photo of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Cadillac Williams and basic username/password fields. The New York Daily News reports that bettors logged into the site with a username and password (or called the site via a toll-free number) and placed wagers on professional and college sports. Network extended to Costa Rica, DA says Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced the arrests last week and his office sent out a press release with details of the arrests and scope of the operation. According to the press release: Details of Castelle’s alleged accomplices Castelle’s right-hand man, according to the DA’s indictment, is Anthony Grecco, who oversaw the gambling activities from Costa Rica. Grecco is also facing charges for “running a loanshark operation” in which he loaned money to three people at interest rates surpassing 25 percent. The four other members of the Castelle ring performed various administrative duties and, according to the Daily News, were responsible for collecting “a percentage of lost wages.” The names of the men, according to the DA’s press release, are:
Gaetano “Tommy” Zuccarello
Theodore “Teddy” Vasilakis
Ioannis “John” Dinos
Vincent Mormile Though the DA’s office didn’t release any specific details about how the men collected debts, they did say that, each week, the men would review each bettor’s wins and losses and then talk with Grecco about how they’d “settle up” the accounts. Castelle a familiar face for authorities Castelle is no newcomer to New York’s courtrooms and jail cells. About a week before Christmas in 2001, Castelle, a sanitation worker at the time, and several other alleged members of the Lucchese crime family pleaded guilty to a variety of charges including drug trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling and loansharking. He was released in 2008 after serving seven years, then was promptly back under the authorities’ watchful eye when a raid of his Staten Island home revealed a small arsenal of weapons. Previous to his 2001 conviction, Castelle was implicated, but never charged, in a less nefarious crime in which he bribed guards to allow him to smuggle mozzarella, provolone, olives and other Italian staples to prisoners in a New York jail.

New York Jumps Into The New Jersey Referendum Discussion

1 Initial revenue projections for new casinos
2 Officials may shift course on development
3 Conflict of interest? Gural has skin in both games North Jersey is getting hammered from both sides these days. With Atlantic City on edge about the state’s November referendum that would allow up to two new casinos in North Jersey, New York has now entered the conversation because of fears that neighboring casinos could cut into the projected revenue of four casinos, three of which plan to open next year. That a state is complaining about the possibility of nearby casinos putting a dent in profits isn’t anything new, but this is the first time New York officials have spoken up in relation to the November referendum. The source of these concerns comes from reporter Tom Precious, who wrote this past week that “officials in New York have been quietly discussing ways to ‘send a shot across the Hudson River’ in advance of New Jersey’s fall referendum.” The quotes he gathered from state officials were given on condition of anonymity. No names were given in the story. However, one could conclude that officials are wary of the referendum because New York is in the midst of a substantial casino expansion initiative. The expansion received a significant boost this past December when state officials approved licenses for three of the four casinos in the initiative: Rivers Casino & Resort, del Lago Resort & Casino and Montreign Resort Casino. Tioga Downs, a Southern Tier facility, won approval to convert into a full-scale casino but has yet to be licensed. All four casinos are under construction. Initial revenue projections for new casinos When Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration researched the financial impact of the proposed casinos, it was estimated that the state would receive an additional $300 million per year. However, much like a recent report from SUNY that questioned the long term benefits of new casinos in Pennsylvania, the New York plan had its detractors. Bennett Liebman, a government lawyer-in-residence at Albany Law School, was quoted as saying that New York was facing slow growth in gaming revenues – much like the rest of the country – and that “there is no reason to think it’s going to be any different, even with additional casinos.” Officials may shift course on development While the positive revenue effects of the upstate casinos may be in question, officials are certain the impending New Jersey referendum will threaten whatever dollars may come in from the trio of licensed casinos. For this reason, Blood-Horse’s Precious wrote, that “well-placed sources” have said the state is “considering a plan” in which New York’s three remaining casino licenses would be put up for bid to developers who want to open properties further south. Conflict of interest? Gural has skin in both games Ironically, the one yet-to-be-licensed New York casino is Tioga Downs, a harness track owned by Jeff Gural, who is also the CEO of New Meadowlands in New Jersey, the site at which, experts predict, a new casino will be built if the November referendum passes. Gural has been a vocal opponent to those who’ve voiced concern about the effect of the referendum on Atlantic City casino, particularly the worries expressed by Resorts Casino Hotel CEO Mark Giannantonio.

What’s The Hold Up? New York Fantasy Sports Bill On Sidelines

In the wee hours of the morning on June 18, all seemed to be well with daily fantasy sports in New York. The Assembly (91-22) and Senate (45-17) had voted to approve a bill that would legalize daily fantasy sports. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to approve the bill, and that has left DFS proponents and others wondering why the measure has yet to be signed. In fact, the bill hasn’t even reached his desk, officially. Enacting the law would allow FanDuel and DraftKings to operate in the state on July 1, per a highly publicized settlement between the two sites and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Cuomo’s silence extending approval process The typical process sees a bill passed by the Assembly and Senate. The governor then calls for a particular bill. That bill is then sent to the governor for his approval or veto. In the case of the DFS bill, Cuomo’s office has yet to call for the bill. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly gaming committee, said “sometimes the governor doesn’t call for a bill until November or December.” He went on to say that “it’s up to the governor’s office” and that, though Cuomo hasn’t asked for the bill itself, he has asked for the bill’s supporting documents. Pretlow was quoted as saying he would be surprised if Cuomo doesn’t eventually sign the bill. The history: Injunction, scandal sent DFS into turmoil Schneiderman’s lawsuit against DraftKings and FanDuel claimed (among other allegations) that the two sites are games of chance rather than games of skill, making them sports betting sites and thus illegal in New York. Yet even before Schneiderman questioned the sites’ legality, DraftKings and FanDuel had to deal with a different scandal earlier in the year. On September 27, a DraftKings employee released data revealing the prevalence of players in DraftKings lineups before games began. Knowing such information in advance could feasibly help a user perform better in a DFS contest. That week, the employee won $350,000 in a FanDuel contest. After that news came out in October, DraftKings defended the employee, saying he did not have the data at a time that would have helped him set his lineup. A third-party report commissioned by DraftKings backed up that assertion. After whirlwind of lawsuits, CEOs remain optimistic DraftKings CEO Jason Robins and FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles managed to remain positive over the past eight months. In separate interviews this week, both men expressed a hopeful outlook about Cuomo’s decision concerning the DFS bill. Eccles told Yahoo Finance reporter Daniel Roberts that the bill passing was the company’s most significant milestone. “It was just elation. It’s a landmark,” Eccles said. “I had some interns in on Thursday and one of them asked me what the biggest milestone for the company has been, and I said, ‘This is it.’” Robins spoke with Roberts three days after the bill passed the Senate. The DraftKings boss acknowledged that the New York battle hurt his company’s reputation, but that he’s hoping Cuomo will give the bill the green light. “I’m hopeful that if the governor chooses to sign the bill into law, we’ll be able to get back in time for football season,” Robins said. a katz /

Brooklyn D.A. Takes Down $1 Billion Gambling Ring

The Brooklyn District Attorney charged four men from California and New York on 57 counts related to running a nearly $1 billion dollar gambling ring. According to a press release from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, one of the men lived in Manhattan: Arthur Rossi, 66. The three other men charged by the Brooklyn DA lived in California: Gordon Mitchnick, 58; Joseph Schneider, 39; and Claude Ferguson, 43. “The principals of this huge gambling operation – possibly the biggest one ever to be dismantled by a local prosecutor’s office – allegedly moved millions of dollars around the United States and the world and used various tactics to launder these proceeds,” District Attorney Ken Thompson said in the release. My Office’s diligent and long-term investigation has now put an end to this criminal enterprise and we intend to see that these defendants face justice here in Brooklyn.” A big-money enterprise A press release from the DA’s office provided an in-depth look at the scope of the gambling, which raked in “some $927,000,000 in wagers on NFL games played during the 2015 season.” The gambling operation allegedly accepted bets on college football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer games as well. The quartet ran the operation through various websites, including, and Operational expenses at $200K/month The DA’s press release noted that the gambling ring needed about $200,000 a month to operate. Expenses included:
Software development The operating expenses did not hamper the ring’s ability to make money, though. The more than $900 million handled during the NFL season had to be stashed somewhere. According to the DA’s release, Mitchnick, the alleged ringleader, laundered the money a variety of ways, including the purchase of 20 houses. The gambling operation moved money around through electronic wire transfers, cash and “other financial institutions.” The release went on to say that Ferguson, a “runner” who transported money, traveled through various U.S. airports with a suitcase filled with $50,000 in cash. Two different operations locations The gambling ring’s main office was located in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was there that employees, where Mitchnick would communicate with workers via text messages, WhatsApp messages and emails. The release also said that there were times when the group operated out of a Brooklyn location, “giving the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office jurisdiction for a criminal prosecution.” Senior District Attorney Nicholas Batsidis, Assistant District Attorney Robert Basso and Assistant District Attorney Theresa Robitaille will prosecute the case, the release said. Second gambling ring indictment in two months The most recent indictment from the DA’s office is the second such investigation this year. In late May, Thompson announced that his office had indicted a ring of six men from Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Similar to the recent investigation, the DA’s office found that the men were running their operation out of Costa Rica.

New York Slots Casino To Open On Long Island In December

1 Opponents still trying to block project
2 Project moving quickly
3 More slots to the New York City area
4 How many slots will the Las Vegas-style casinos bring to New York? It’s not one of the new Las Vegas-style casinos coming to upstate New York, but in December, another gambling facility is set to open in the Empire State. It will be Long Island’s first casino. In August, the Village of Islandia approved the Islandia Marriott Hotel Long Island for 1,000 slot machines. Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation will run the games. The state Gaming Commission also gave it approval. Opponents still trying to block project According to a report from, area residents are still engaged in an effort to prevent the facility from opening. A lawsuit claims that the building isn’t zoned for gambling. An increase in traffic reportedly is the main concern for nearby homeowners. Islandia gave the business a special permit for the machines. Suffolk OTB’s previous plan to build the slots parlor at the former Showcase Cinemas property in Medford fell through after a lawsuit from residents there, according to Long Island Business News. At the August hearing, Islandia officials touted the 350 jobs that the facility will create, in addition to helping reduce local taxes. Islandia Mayor Allan Dorman said in a statement as the project was receiving some criticism: The property will still have a 279-room hotel. Project moving quickly The owner of the facility, Buffalo-based Delaware North, said earlier this month that renovations and construction are already underway. The property will debut about 300 machines this year, with the rest coming next year. According to News 12 Long Island, the project is expected to help Suffolk OTB successfully emerge from bankruptcy. The company has $17.5 million in debt. More slots to the New York City area The Islandia slots parlor will join Resorts World New York City in the market. The latter has about 5,500 slot and table game machines. It has about 40 percent of the New York State video gaming market. Resorts World is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genting Malaysia Berhad. This summer, the Queens gambling facility said it’s eyeing a $400 million expansion. It would add 1,000 slots (bringing the slot total to 4,000). The casino would also have a new hotel and convention complex. The first slot machines came to New York in 2004 at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway in Saratoga Springs. Since then, the state has allowed eight additional facilities. According to the state Gaming Commission, there are about 18,000 video gaming machines operating statewide. How many slots will the Las Vegas-style casinos bring to New York? There are four commercial casinos under construction in upstate New York. The first one could open as soon as February. About 6,300 additional slot machines will be added to the state when all four properties are open. Unlike other facilities, they can have live dealer table games. According to the Gaming Commission, video gaming in New York generated just under $2 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2015/2016. That came from about $37 billion in bets. Image credit: littleny /

Report: SEC Looked For Possible Insider Trading Involving NY Casino Licensee

1 What happened to the stock
2 What the casino brings to Sullivan County The United States government took a look at possible insider trading involving one of New York State’s four casino licensees, according to a report this week from the New York Post. Citing an unnamed government source, the Post reported that Securities and Exchange Commission officials became aware of “suspicious” trading of Empire Resorts Inc. in the days leading up to it receiving a license recommendation from the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board on Dec. 17, 2014. Empire Resorts is eyeing a $1.25 billion casino complex in Sullivan County. It’s the most expensive of the new commercial casinos coming to the Empire State. It’s also the project closest to New York City. What happened to the stock According to the Post report, NASDAQ records show that the volume of traded shares nearly tripled from 31,132 on Dec. 12 to 82,495 on Dec. 16. The share price rose from $32 to $40 during the four-day period. Trading volume grew to 443,883 on Dec. 17. The stock price fell below $36 per share. Almost exactly a year later, the New York State Gaming Commission approved the company for a license. The report noted that the largest stakeholder in Empire Resorts is K.T. Lim, the chairman of Genting Group. Genting operates the Resorts World slots casino in New York City. Empire Resorts and state officials said the SEC hasn’t contacted them about any investigation. The SEC declined comment to the Post. What the casino brings to Sullivan County Empire Resorts already owns and operates, through its subsidiary Monticello Raceway Management Inc., the Monticello Casino and Raceway. The racino is about 90 miles from midtown Manhattan. The Las Vegas-style casino, which is to be called Montreign Resort Casino, was a little more than a quarter finished as of late last month, according to a Commission hearing. The project is the only one of the four new casinos that hasn’t finalized financing. Commission Executive Director Robert Williams said at the hearing that the casino is likely waiting to see if New Jersey voters allow casinos just outside of New York City. According to recent polls, Atlantic City will likely retain its casino monopoly in the Garden State. Montreign Resort Casino will have 2,150 slot machines, 102 table games and 332 hotel rooms. The casino-hotel is part of the larger Adelaar destination resort. Empire Resorts has called it an “integrated entertainment and lifestyle complex.” The complex is expected to create more than 5,000 construction and permanent jobs. The casino-hotel portion will create more than 1,000 jobs. The area has one of highest unemployment rates in the state. The casino is expected to generate $300 million in gross gaming revenue in 2019, according to a state report.

Tioga Downs Finalizes Financing For New York Casino Project

1 What the NY casino will offer
2 When will Tioga Downs open its casino? One of the four commercial casinos in the pipeline for the Empire State said Monday that it has closed financing for its project. American Racing & Entertainment, owner and operator of the Tioga Downs racino, announced that it has raised $90 million in new senior secured debt facilities. The group is looking to complete a $134 million expansion of Tioga Downs, which is located in Nichols, New York. The expansion will convert the racino into a Las Vegas-style casino. The financing consists of an $80 million loan and a $10 million line of credit. “Getting this project financed is not only a win for us as a company, but also the Southern Tier community,” said ARE CEO Jeff Gural. “It will act as an immediate catalyst for economic growth by creating over 550 jobs and attracting more people to the area. Our business is already booming so I am really encouraged to see the Tioga expansion continue to drive visitation and improve the local economy.” What the NY casino will offer Tioga Downs, which has some video gaming machines already, received a commercial gaming license in August. The process for the racino was a tough one, but it should help the property grow. It currently wins about $60 million a year from its machines. Tioga Downs was rejected for a casino license in late 2014, but Southern Tier officials were able to convince New York to eventually award a fourth license. The expansion will give the racino:
A 33,000-square-foot casino
1,000 slot machines
50 gaming tables
161 hotel rooms
Six restaurants and bars
A 6,500-square-foot event center When will Tioga Downs open its casino? The casino expansion portion was 90 percent complete as of late September, while the hotel and event center construction began last month. The new casino floor could open as early as December. The second phase of the project is expected to be finished in October 2017. According to a report from the Democrat & Chronicle, state gaming regulators still need to adopt regulations for gaming tables and slot machines at the new commercial casinos. The new rules could be finalized as early as November. Earlier this month, the first batch of new slot machines arrived at Tioga Downs. Tioga Downs could be the first Las Vegas-style commercial casino to open in New York, despite being the last one approved for a license. “Tioga is working closely with the [New York] Gaming Commission and its staff to complete the remaining steps required by law and regulations to convert the property into a full-scale casino and looks forward to opening the property as promptly as possible,” ARE said in a statement.

Cuomo Announced $30 Million In Payments To Upstate NY For New Commercial Casinos

New commercial casino licenses issued by New York state resulted in more than $30 million being paid to a variety of counties and municipalities in upstate. Where did the new money come from? The payments were recently announced by the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as a result of three new casinos under construction in the state, including:
Montreign, located near Monticello in the Catskills Mountains.
Rivers Casino near Schenectady.
Lago Resort & Casino in the town of Tyre in the Finger Lakes region. All three casinos have plans to open next year. There are already nine racinos and five tribal casinos in the state, but late last year the state approved licenses for three commercial casinos that are not connected to race tracks or Native American tribes. Where does the money go? The money earmarked for upstate jurisdictions is $30.2 million, which is being paid to 22 counties and three municipalities. Cuomo said this in a press release: The total of the fees paid equals more than $150 million, with 80 percent “applied statewide for school aid/property tax relief.” New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen Acquario had this to say after the payments were announced: The full list of jurisdictions receiving payments can be seen here.

New York May Try To Pass Sports Betting Law To Challenge Federal Ban

New York may try to pass a sports betting law in 2017, a direct affront to a federal law that bans such wagering in the vast majority of states. The possibility of NY acting comes after New Jersey lost its latest appeal as it tries to legalize sports betting within its borders. What NY might do on sports betting The news of New York trying to pass sports betting legislation came via GamblingCompliance (paywall). In an interview with New York Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow, GC learned that he was interested in crafting a sports betting bill. GC reported that Pretlow was “looking at challenging the feds.” New York is already poised to offer sports betting should Congress ever repeal PASPA — the federal law that bans the activity in most states other than Nevada and a handful of others. What would NY have to do to create a PASPA challenge? In order to create a challenge like New Jersey has in recent years, New York would have to do a partial repeal of its spots betting laws. That’s what New Jersey has attempted, unsuccessfully, as the professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the Department of Justice have challenged the state’s actions. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the NJ appeal this week by a 9-3 margin in an “en banc” rehearing. That ruling is binding within the circuit — which includes Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well. But that decision is not binding in New York; it only serves as precedent in the Second Circuit, which oversees NY. The plan goes like this: New York does an NJ-style partial repeal, allowing sports betting, likely at NY casinos and racetracks. The state is sued by the leagues and the DOJ, like it was in New Jersey. The new variable: New York would hope the Second Circuit, when the case gets there, is more amenable to the PASPA challenge than the Third Circuit was. Can NY win where NJ didn’t? How likely is New York to win a PASPA challenge? Some legal experts believe that PASPA is ripe for challenge, especially in a state like New York, which has also enacted a law legalizing daily fantasy sports. The argument could be made that the leagues — the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and MLB — are selectively enforcing PASPA. The leagues are not suing to stop DFS laws from taking effect. However, given the Third Circuit ruling, there’s not a lot of reason to be optimistic about an NY challenge, should it happen. Of course, there’s a lot of ground to cover before such a challenge even develops. New York would have to introduce a bill and enact a law — no easy task in and of itself. And the state would have to do all that, knowing it’s in for a lengthy legal battle like New Jersey is going through. Is the NY government really ready for that? We may find out next year.