Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 8, 2013

Sites no sure bet

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

"We're known right now as a family-oriented resort. Do we want to be known as a gambling town?" asked Lake George Mayor Robert Blais.

The tourist-heavy area around Lake George and Saratoga Springs, 20 miles south, could be a candidate for a new casino. But a new casino could conflict with Saratoga Springs' nationally-known thoroughbred track and the local harness track with video slot machines.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson said any new casino that cuts into its successful attractions could be a problem.

"I have to be parochial when it comes to what I advocate for, what I fight for, for our community," Johnson said, "and certainly horse racing is at the top of that list."

Johnson does, however, see the value in adding table games to Saratoga's video casino.

Lake George's Blais said he will withhold judgment as he lobbies for an independent impact study, but he notes that "our community seems to be divided."

It's not just gambling interests that are concerned.

Proctors, a theater in Schenectady, already competes for some of the same acts as Turning Stone Resort Casino almost 100 miles west, said Philip Morris, Proctors' chief executive officer. A large casino complex with a big theater would vie for patrons of the existing theaters in the Albany area, he said.

"They're really unfair competitors because their goal to keep people in the building so they stay at the table," Morris said.

New York already has five Indian casinos and nine tracks that offer video slots but no table games. The Legislature is expected to consider final passage this year of an amendment to the state constitution that would allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos beyond Indian land. If approved by lawmakers, voters could make a final decision in November.

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