Saratogians Duke It Out Over New York Casino

At yet another well-attended City Council meeting, Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen said council members would revisit a 2012 resolution that gave official support to full-scale casino gaming in the city.

Opponent calls casinos “parasitic”

Saratoga Springs, New York Mayor Joanne Yepsen is working to “update” a resolution passed in late 2012 that put the Saratoga City Council firmly behind Las Vegas-style casinos in the historic racing town. A majority of residents of the community voted against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gaming expansion referendum, which passed statewide in November 2013.

The December 2012 resolution stated that “council expresses it strong support for Saratoga Casino and Raceway as a location for one of the seven potential casinos to be authorized.”

Yepsen said the resolution should “reflect the current thinking” of the city and council members. According to the Saratogian, she noted that in 2012, “we didn’t have nearly the public comment” that lawmakers now have. Residents have come out in droves to oppose a casino at the Saratoga, which is now a racino with video lottery terminals as well as a horse track.

Last week’s council meeting brought out more opponents than supporters of a Class III casino license. Many of them wore telltale red T-shirts or wore buttons designating them as Saratogians Against Vegas-style Expansion.

“I beg this council to think long and hard about what we are inviting into our community,” said SAVE member Ammy Holgate.

A man who identified himself as a Saratoga Quaker called casinos “parasitic.” He asked, “what do you profit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?”

Meanwhile, racino owners are preparing to submit plans for a $30 million expansion that includes a five-story, 120-room hotel as well as the event space to the city’s land-use boards within the month, Yepsen said. That project is expected to move forward with or without full-scale casino gaming, reported the Saratogian.