Not job-creating: Schenectady casino project would like to raise EB-5 immigrant investor funds, but it's not required
The planned Rivers Casino & Resort project in Schenectady wants to tap Chinese capitalists through a Texas firm that uses a growing but controversial visa program designed to foster foreign investment in the U.S.If they don't need the EB-5 money, then 1) it's just margin for the developer and 2) it makes a mockery of a program that is supposed to create jobs.
While the primary owners of Rivers are affiliated with the Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming company and the Rotterdam-based Galesi Group developers, the casino's developers have teamed up with Houston-based Great Texas Regional Center, one of more than 700 companies nationwide that raise money from overseas through the federal government's EB-5 immigration program.
Created in 1990, the EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to get preference for visas if they commit to investing at least $500,000 in U.S.-based businesses. While seen as an effective vehicle for raising foreign capital, EB-5 has also been criticized as a "visa-for-sale" program.
Rush Street stressed that EB-5 money is not needed to get the project built: "Rivers Casino & Resort's financing is in place and upon receiving our license from the New York State Gaming Commission we are ready to begin construction on our facility," the company said in a statement. "We are currently considering an EB-5 financing, however it is not required for this project."