Saratoga County supervisors likely to back East Greenbush casino
BALLSTON SPA Saratoga County supervisors are planning to endorse the East Greenbush casino project whose partners include the owners of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway over any of the other Capital Region casino proposals.
The county board’s Racing and Gaming Committee gave its backing Tuesday to the East Greenbush plan, starting a process that could lead to approval by the full Board of Supervisors next week.
“It’s a Saratoga-based business, and this gives us the chance to support an opportunity for a local business,” said committee Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton.
Racino Vice President George “Skip” Carlson said the company hopes partnering in a Rensselaer County casino will alleviate an expected loss of business at the Saratoga racino once there’s a full casino in the region. It would also create possibilities for cross-promoting the two venues, he said.
The racino — which offers only video lottery terminals — anticipates losing as much as 40 percent of its 2.1 million annual customers once a full casino opens somewhere in the region. It would hope to retain most of them if it wins state approval for the East Greenbush project. reducing any job cuts at the racino.
“Combining efforts would be beneficial to our employees, it would be beneficial to the county, it would be beneficial to the horsemen,” Carlson told the committee prior to its vote at the meeting in Ballston Spa.
County officials were previously on record supporting plans for a full casino at the Saratoga racino site, but the racino operators abandoned that idea in favor of the East Greenbush site in April after significant opposition to a full casino emerged from Saratoga Springs residents.
The racino is now proposing a $300 million casino and 300-room hotel complex on Thompson Hill in East Greenbush, in partnership with Churchill Downs Inc. of Kentucky, which operates six casinos and five horse racing tracks across the country. Separately, Saratoga Casino and Raceway is planning to add a hotel and event center on its property.
With only one state-sanctioned casino expected to be located in the Capital Region, there are currently proposals for sites in Schenectady, Amsterdam, Rensselaer, East Greenbush and possibly Howes Cave. Potential casino operators are trying to line up local resolutions of support prior to the state Gaming Commission’s June 30 application deadline.
The East Greenbush Town Board passed a general resolution of support for hosting a casino two months ago, and will consider a site-specific resolution at a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall.
What weight a resolution of support from Saratoga County would have in the state review process is unclear. The county resolution will be conditional on the East Greenbush Town Board supporting the project.
Grattidge said none of the other prospective casino operators has asked Saratoga County to support their project.
Carlson said even a casino located in East Greenbush would bring $2.4 million to $2.8 million in new revenue annually to Saratoga County, and other casino revenue would help support harness racing operations at the racino.
The proposed resolution of support will be discussed by the county board’s Law and Finance Committee at 4 p.m. today in the county boardrooms in Ballston Spa.