New Yorkers Continue to Debate Casinos

The sentiment for and against Vegas-style casinos in upstate New York is split widely, depending upon where you are located.

Most voters in Saratoga Springs say no. Many people in Montgomery County say yes. As the government of New York ponders where it will site the first four Vegas-style casinos in the state, residents continue to debate the value gaming could bring to their towns.

Montgomery County is one of several in the Capital Region eligible for a casino license after voters statewide approved Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gaming referendum last fall. But will residents there support a local casino?

“This project is completely locally driven,” Ken Rose, of the Montgomery County Business Development Center, told the Gloversville Leader Herald. “If the municipalities don’t approve of it, then it won’t happen.”

Rose is requesting resolutions of support from the county legislature, the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam. “The state only granted us a (possible) casino operator’s license,” Rose said. “So it’s necessary that any casino project be funded through a casino operator, a developer and possibly the municipality itself.”

County Executive Matt Ossenfort is all for it. “I think we need to explore every economic development opportunity for this county,” Ossenfort said. “A casino would bring a lot of jobs into the county, which is something we need.”

Democratic state Assembly candidate Carrie Woerner endorsed proposed legislation that would require local approval for the state to site a casino, and would require projects to go through the state environmental quality review process, reports the Glen Falls Post-Star. The legislation was sponsored by state Senators Liza Krueger and Cecelia Tkaczyk.

“The legislation really strengthens home rule rights for all the communities that are exploring benefits and the costs of casinos,” Woerner said.

Saratoga Springs is widely regarded as a possible casino location. But most Saratoga voters came out against gaming, many fearing that it would siphon off local business and be inconsistent with the city’s historic character.

Cuomo’s plan calls for three additional casinos after the first four have been open for seven years.