Just weeks after New York State voters passed a referendum to allow for expanded casino gambling, a new group in Saratoga County is lobbying for an expanded facility there. Geoff Redick has more on the story.
SARATOGA, N.Y. -- "Saratoga is the best destination in the state for a new casino," said Dan Hogan, "Destination Saratoga."
Opinions don't come much clearer than that.
"It's already got a vibrant nightlife. It already has gaming. It has internationally-known horse racing. And it has a vibrant community," Hogan added.
But new pro-casino group "Destination Saratoga" still has an uphill battle. Last month, 57 percent of voting Saratoga Springs residents said "no" to a state referendum to expand casino gambling.
Regardless, that law passed, and three resort-style casinos will be allowed in New York, including one in the Capital Region.
And "Destination Saratoga" maintains if it's going to be anywhere, it's going to be here.
"The whole point here is, Saratoga meets the requirements of the constitutional amendment better than any place in the state," Hogan went on to say.
The group is primarily funded by Saratoga Casino & Raceway. Perhaps not surprisingly, they propose to expand right at the Casino & Raceway, on the facility's 160-acre property.
With slot machines and small restaurants already there, the group says expansion would not be a culture shock for the city.
"We're not talking about a Vegas-style casino; we're talking about a Saratoga-style casino. And there is a difference," Hogan continued.
But what does it mean when we say, 'Vegas-style casino?' Most of us would assume that to include a hotel, restaurants, maybe a performance venue. But Hogan says, none of that is guaranteed right now.
"This casino will by no means be a 'modest expansion,'" said Sara Boivin, with anti-casino group "SAVE Saratoga," she says the new law all but calls for a massive Vegas-style casino.
"It requires hotels, it requires restaurants. It requires amenities that are equal to or greater than the surrounding community," Boivin added.
While the law doesn't explicitly say all that, it is titled "Destination Resort Gaming," and does include lines requiring at least one hotel, and other unspecified "amenities."
"We're really afraid that will take away from our downtown businesses, our convention center, SPAC, UPH...all the places that are arts venues in our city," she went on to say.
But "Destination Saratoga" disputes that, and offers one other hypothetical:
"Think about what would happen to Saratoga, if they were to put a casino somewhere else in the region," Hogan shared.
The group believes *that* possibility of lost business, is the real gamble.
A forum sponsored by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce Monday, promises further debate.