Saratoga Springs

Bill to help Saratoga racino compete clears hurdle

'We’re helping them to remain at the forefront of a competitive gaming marketplace statewide'
Inside Saratoga Casino Hotel.
Inside Saratoga Casino Hotel.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A bill making it easier for Saratoga Casino Hotel to compete with a new casino 20 miles south in Schenectady — has cleared a major hurdle: the state Legislature.

The bill, if signed into law, would amend state tax law to allow the racino to use 4 percent of its net winnings to make capital improvements — something only facilities with less than 1,100 gaming machines can currently do.

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The Saratoga Springs racino has just over 1,700 video gaming terminals to complement the harness racing track. The legislation, which passed the Assembly last week after passing the Senate on June 6, ups the threshold to 1,900.

“By increasing the opportunity for local gaming facilities to reinvest earnings, upgrade facilities and expand, we’re helping them to remain at the forefront of a competitive gaming marketplace statewide,” said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, who sponsored the legislation with Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon. “This bill will allow Saratoga’s racino to create new construction jobs in our area, enhance the experience of patrons and ultimately attract more visitors.”

She also said it levels the playing field for the gaming operation that now faces more competition with the opening of Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady earlier this year.

Marchione said the current law penalizes casino operators who have “by far the lowest share of their gaming revenue among the New York operators” and hinders their ability to add amenities for customers and also gaming machines. The harness-racing purses, the gaming facility and the state, which gets a share of the gaming revenue for education funding, all stand to benefit from the amendment, she said.

“This legislation is all about fairness for Saratoga,” Marchione added.

In advocating for the bill’s passage earlier this month, Woerner said the casino plans to use the increased access to gaming revenue to invest in a parking garage — a feature the Schenectady casino was built with. Officials at Saratoga Casino Hotel could not be reached Thursday for comment.

“With the opening of the Rivers Casino, they are definitely seeing an impact on their business,” she said.

Categories: -News-, -Sports-, Schenectady County

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