Make casino selection process transparent, Saratoga County legislators urge
SARATOGA SPRINGS Saratoga County's state legislators want any new state-sanctioned casinos to be selected through an open process — and for Saratoga Springs to be one of the sites.
Two Republican assemblymen and state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, on Monday announced they've introduced legislation to have proposed casino sites publicly identified before voters consider a constitutional amendment — something Gov. Andrew Cuomo has so far opposed.
"It's very important that we bring sunshine into the casino site selection process," said Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, at a press conference outside City Hall. "If the public is going to vote on this, they should know what they're voting on."
City and county officials support having a full-fledged casino in the city if gambling is legalized. It would probably be at the existing Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Crescent Avenue, which already has video lottery terminal gambling.
"It's a bipartisan effort. We think this is the proper site," said county Board of Supervisors Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton.
The Casino Gaming Transparency Act being proposed by Jordan, Marchione and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, is being introduced as the state Legislature prepares to consider voting for a second time on a constitutional amendment to allow full commercial gambling in the state.
A proposed amendment was approved last year, and under the state constitutional amendment process must be passed a second time. If it is, the proposed amendment would be put before voters for approval this November.
Cuomo, who supports the amendment, wants the casino sites to be selected by an independent gaming commission. He has proposed that initially there be three casinos at currently unspecified upstate locations.
Speculation has focused on Niagara Falls and the Catskills as two of the areas, with Saratoga Springs being one of the other possibilities. The county Board of Supervisors and the Saratoga Springs City Council have both approved resolutions supporting the city's selection.
"We are united," said county Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, D-Saratoga Springs. "This is an extremely important local economic issue for us, but also means tremendous revenue for New York state."