As the allure of Grossinger's faded with the rest of the Borscht Belt in the 1970s and '80s, Mitchell Grossinger Etess and his family envisioned a casino to revive their hotel resort.

They tried to get New Yorkers to warm to the idea, which required major political support. It didn't work.

"When we sold it, it wasn't happening," Etess said.

His family sold Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel in 1986. The hotel closed that year, ending a chapter in Catskills history spanning much of the 20th century when Jewish families fled the steamy streets of New York City for fresh air, swimming, golf and heaping plates of kosher food in the mountains about 100 miles to the north. Think the backdrop for "Dirty Dancing."

Nearly three decades have past since Grossinger's closed. Moss and graffiti cover the place. And Etess is thinking again about building a casino in the Catskills.

This time, his sights are set on the hotel that was his family's biggest competitor: the former Concord Resort Hotel in Thompson, N.Y., less than 15 miles from the old Grossinger's.

Etess is CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns and operates Mohegan Sun in Uncasville. The tribe's primary competition in Connecticut is Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, run by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

The Pequots also want to build a casino in New York — at Grossinger's. Not on the footprint of the hotel, but on much of the sprawling 800-acres-or-more where Grossinger's had a golf course and a lake bearing the family name.

"The whole thing of Foxwoods being at Grossinger's and us being at The Concord is just very humorous," Etess said. "I always wanted what Mohegan Sun has become here to be what Grossinger's would become. When we sold it, it wasn't happening. So, I never really envisioned there would be anything happening in the Catskills, but it certainly would be very exciting if my company could have something to do with the Catskills having something positive happen."

The Mohegans and the Pequots have plenty of company. They are only two of 20 developers interested in building a casino in Upstate New York. The state legislature and voters across New York passed an amendment to the state's constitution allowing casinos with the hope of boosting tourism and economic development.

Applications are due June 30, but developers interested in applying were required to plunk down $1 million in April to solidify their commitment. New York's Gaming Facility Location Board expects to choose winning development plans next fall in what could be a much faster process than casino licensing currently underway in Massachusetts.

While casinos could add pizazz to the Catskills, they alone are unlikely to be the regional beacon that Grossinger's and The Concord once were, Etess said. And any Catskill casino will be dwarfed in size by Connecticut casinos that dominated gaming in the Northeast during the 1990s and the past decade.

"I view the Catskills project as an extension of what we have at Foxwoods," said Foxwoods CEO and President Scott Butera.

"Certainly what we would build would not be anywhere near the size and scale of Foxwoods, but it would be something that would have all the same amenities, but on a little bit smaller scale," Butera said.

3 Casino Regions

There will be at least casino one in each of three Upstate regions: the Albany-Saratoga Springs area; the Hudson Valley-Catskills; and the eastern Southern Tier, an Idaho-shaped region that stretches from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border.

Some regions of the state are off-limits to new casinos because of existing exclusivity agreements between New York and several Indian tribes to run the gaming in their regions, such as the Adirondacks, Western New York and Central New York.

The law prohibits destination gaming resorts in Westchester County, Rockland County, Putnam County, New York City and Long Island during the first round. Eventually, casinos could be built downstate or on Long Island, but not for at least seven years after the first casino is awarded to an Upstate location.

New York already has gambling in the form of nine racinos — a combination race track and casino — five Indian-operated casinos, electronic gaming machines, and a lottery. The new casinos will offer slot machines and table games, such as poker and black jack, in areas where they were not allowed before.

The Empire State wants resort-style casinos for some of the same reasons Massachusetts wants them: New Yorkers are gambling their money in other states, losing the economic benefit, tax revenue and jobs to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere.