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Anti-Saratoga casino group hosts first public meeting

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Albany/HV: Anti-Saratoga casino group hosts first public meeting
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Nearly two weeks after New York voters passed a resolution to legalize casino gambling in the state, a community group rallies in Saratoga Springs in hopes of keeping a casino out of the Spa City. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, they're hopeful it's not too late to have their voices heard.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A public school teacher in the city for the past 20 years, Johanna Garrison was one of more than 130 people to voice their concerns about the potential of a new casino at a public meeting in Saratoga Springs Monday night.

"I'm concerned about a huge spike in the crime,” Garrison said. “I'm also concerned the social ramifications will far outweigh any revenue."

Organized by the group SAVE, or Saratogians Against Vegas-style Expansion, Monday's rally aimed to amplify the voice of the 57 percent of Saratoga County voters who opposed Proposition 1 on Election Night. Even without local support, the statewide measure passed and paves the way for seven Vegas-style casinos in the state.

"We're looking for our elected officials to represent us and to say 'Hey, this is the majority and let's stick behind them,'" said Colin Klepetar, SAVE’s founder.

"Except for the Catskills, every other Upstate metropolitan area voted no and I think that's telling," said Tony Krackeler, a SAVE member.

As a microphone was passed around the packed city council chambers, the reasons for opposition varied.

"I'm here because I want to see a safe and healthy community stay," Saratoga Springs resident Carol Fallon said.

"I'm very concerned about what it's going to do to property values," said Bob Lippman, a Spa City resident for the past 25 yaers.

"In a nutshell, it all boils down to facts, figures and logic,” said David Morris. “None of it lines up for gambling."

As part of the eight-county Capital Region designated to receive one of the seven casinos, Saratoga figures to offer a competitive bid with its already established racino as the centerpiece.

For a growing number of SAVE members, there's hope this grassroots effort will be enough to ensure that doesn't happen.

"What we need is real economic development, not the redistribution of income," said Stillwater resident James Close, a member of Citizens Against Gambling In New York (CAGNY).

"When they say listen to your gut, I listen to mine,” Garrison said. “I'm fervently, fervently opposed to any expansion in the casino."

For more information on Saratogian’s Against Vegas-Style Expansion, visit the organization’s website at www.savesaratoga.org.

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