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MONTICELLO, NY-Concord Associates LP, a joint venture believed to consist of Cappelli Enterprises Inc. of Valhalla and Reckson Strategic Venture Partners, has agreed to sell the Concord and Grossinger’s resort hotels in Sullivan County to gaming company Empire Resorts Inc. Empire, the owner of Monticello Raceway and the recently opened Might M–video lottery–gaming facility at the harness track, hopes to build a casino for the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma at either the Concord or Grossinger’s.

If the sales deal closes, Empire would issue Concord Associates LP 18 million common shares, which represents approximately 40% ownership of Empire Resorts. News of the deal sent Empire stock up on Monday, closing at $11.39 per share, $2.10 higher than Friday’s close. The value of the deal rose from approximately $167.2 million on Friday to more than $205 million at the end of business on Monday. Reckson Strategic Venture Partners owns 46% of the Concord Associates partnership.

Cappelli Enterprises held a groundbreaking for a proposed redevelopment of the storied hotel property in 2000, but later abandoned the venture. The company headed by Louis Cappelli is believed to be a major partner in Concord Associates. A spokesman for Cappelli Enterprises says the firm has no comment. The sales agreement involves casino and hotel development sites at the two properties that total more than 1,200 acres and famed golf courses such as the Monster, International, Challenger and Grossinger’s golf courses.

News of the sales deal comes on the heels of an announcement on Friday that the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma had reached an agreement to settle a 25-year-old land claim dispute with the State of New York that could eventually pave the way for state approval of the tribe’s casino venture in the Catskills.

“We view the strategic consolidation of the Concord and Grossinger’s properties with Empire’s Monticello Raceway as a unique opportunity to merge into one publicly traded entity the most strategic locations available for future development of Native American gaming in New York State,” says David Matheson, chairman of Empire Resorts. “The synergy inherent in this acquisition should significantly add to shareholder value in the near and long term, and enhance the opportunity of the company to expand its Native American gaming development and management business in the future.”

Empire also has a deal in place to develop a $500-million casino on property adjacent to Monticello Raceway for the Cayuga Nation of New York. However, talks broke down several months ago between the Cayuga Nation of New York and New York State on the same land claim litigation that the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of New York has now agreed to settle.

In a prepared release, Empire says that it is urging the Cayuga Nation of New York and New York State to pursue a settlement agreement prior to Dec. 31 when the company’s agreements with the tribe expire. Empire Resorts was selected as exclusive casino developer for the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma in August. Its exclusive agreement with that Native American Indian tribe terminates in August of next year.

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