Luther Winn, president and CEO of Greenetrack, the largest Black-owned casino developer in the country, is looking to bring the success of casinos to New York State not only to stimulate business for the state, but also to transform a community.
Greenetrack is looking to open the Grand Hudson Casino and Resort in Orange County in New Windsor, N.Y., near Newburgh. The Grand Hudson is expected to generate more than $181 million annually in state gaming taxes and fees, and provide millions in support for local fire and police departments and employment and benefits throughout the Hudson Valley.
The Grand Hudson includes 120,000 square feet of gaming space, a luxury hotel and spa, a performing arts center, a full range of dining options and retail space. The project also includes a world-class sports and aquatic complex.
The project will create 1,800 construction jobs during its initial phase and more than 2,500 permanent jobs once complete.
The shovel-ready project has completed its State Environmental Quality Review assessment and is also in line with New York’s Smart Growth program, which focuses on developing sites with existing infrastructure to promote economic development, job creation and improving community quality of life.
Winn is one of 19 casino developers looking to get one of four licenses to develop a casino in upstate New York as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act. The legislation, signed last year, establishes four destination gaming resorts in upstate New York and boosts tourism and economic development in communities across the region.
Under the casino gaming plan outlined in the new law, all localities in the state will share in increased education aid or lower property taxes, no matter where the casinos are located.
“Our focus has been to bring jobs and boost local economies in upstate New York, where decades of decline have taken their toll in our communities,” Cuomo said.
Greenetrack is the only Black-owned casino developer looking to get the green light. Advocates for the company say allowing Greenetrack to come to New York State would align with Cuomo’s promise to include more MWBEs in development projects in the state.
“The Grand Hudson has such incredible potential to benefit the struggling communities in the mid-Hudson Valley,” said Winn. “Our project is sized just right, and was developed in response to what we heard from people in neighborhoods throughout the region.”
Winn already has proven success with a casino he opened in Greene County, Ala. The casino changed the economy of the community by providing job training, employment and scholarships.
Greene County was the second poorest county in Alabama, number 66 of 67, and the school system was in receivership. Over the three-year period since the casino was built, Greene County had risen from 66th to 31st in prosperity and was listed as the fastest growing county in Alabama.
Greenetrack offers employees a health care package that pays 65 percent of whichever coverage they choose and a $25,000 free life insurance policy. Employees are also offered free long-term and short-term disability.
A scholarship program is offered to all employees. If an employee chooses not to take the scholarship, it can be passed on to the employee’s children.
Winn wants to bring the same benefits to Orange County.
“Our casino improved the quality of life, provided more opportunity and reduced poverty,” said Winn. “What drew us to Newburgh is we wanted to do work in a lot of ways to improve things.”
Greenetrack recently presented its plans to the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board for approval.