After a major statewide push by Governor Andrew Cuomo and his supporters, Proposition One passed easily Tuesday night, but it did so without the support of a majority of Capital Region voters. YNN's Matt Hunter reports.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – "We were very excited,” said Rita Cox, Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s senior vice president of marketing and external affairs. “We've been working on this for a very long time."
The passage of Proposition One Tuesday night means Saratoga Casino and Raceway executives can formally move forward with their bid to be named the site of a future full-scale casino.
"Right now, we look forward to working with the Gaming Commission and whatever process they lay out to make sure we can bring jobs fast to this area," Cox said.
Proposition One passed by a 14 percent margin statewide, but Saratoga was one of four designated Capital Region counties where the majority of voters voted "no." Voters in Albany, Schenectady and Washington counties also failed to support the measure.
That outcome failed to surprise the Spa City's next mayor, Democrat Joanne Yepsen.
"I think what they're very afraid of is that Saratoga Springs will become another Atlantic City,” Yepsen said following her victory speech late Tuesday. “We just can't let that happen."
When the eight Capital Region counties are added together, 51.5 percent of voters were opposed while 48.5 percent voted in voted favor. With each of these eight counties now in play for the Capital Region's lone casino, business leaders stress the need to work together.
"I think there are opportunities for everyone to benefit,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “We've got to get in a room together and figure out how to make that happen."
In a statement, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber President Mark Eagan echoed that sentiment, saying, “While voters of New York have spoken, the Regional Chamber’s focus remains how to mitigate the impact of a casino in the Capital Region. The fact of the matter is, the "no" vote was 50.9% in the greater Capital Region. Great concerns exist for many and in order to do gaming well, we must underscore the importance of public input as the gaming commission moves forward.”
As Saratoga Casino and Raceway executives prepare their bid, they say it's a shared goal to make sure the community is on board with their plans.
“We look forward to having the opportunity to speak with them and make sure what we're doing is the absolute best for Saratoga," Cox said.
"If we have an application everyone here in Saratoga can support, my guess is that the Gaming Commission will say ‘yes,’” Shimkus said. “If that's the end result we want, we've got to find a way to make that happen."
On Tuesday night, Yepsen said she's yet decide if she believes a casino is best for Saratoga or better off somewhere else.