Saratoga County balking at casino for city
ALBANY (AP) – A week after New York voters approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to authorize seven Las Vegas-style casinos, residents in one of the most lucrative potential locations continue to balk.
Saratoga County officials canceled a vote Thursday to support casino gambling. An online petition by opponents is also underway.
Under Cuomo’s plan to create jobs and raise tax revenues, one casino would be built in the Albany-Saratoga region. The owners of the harness racing track and video slot center in Saratoga Springs want to turn it into a full-fledged casino.
The process requires local support before a site is chosen. But how that support will be measured isn’t clear. Under state law, a community can’t block a casino.
Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch postponed the county Racing Committee vote scheduled for Thursday that would have endorsed casino gambling in the city that includes the storied Saratoga Race Course thoroughbred track.
The Saratoga Springs Casino & Raceway, a harness racing facility, is nearby. It has more than 1,700 video lottery terminals and other electronic table games. While lucrative for operators as well as local and state governments that get a cut, those games don’t match the crowds and gambling sought under the plans for destination gambling resorts.
In the Nov. 5 statewide referendum, Saratoga County voters rejected the casino measure 54-to-46 percent. Each surrounding county – Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren and Washington – voted the referendum down as well. The measure passed statewide with a 57-percent vote.
“Since the constituents didn’t support the referendum, it made sense for us to pull back and take a look at what we are doing,” Veitch said.
Opponents say casinos will bring crime and addiction that will hurt communities. Opponents in Saratoga Springs have opposed a casino as a threat to the prosperous city that has grown around Saratoga Race Course, which is a global tourist attraction.