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Paterson's budget plan allows gaming at racino all day and all night

Paterson's budget plan allows gaming at racino all day and all night

Saratoga Gaming and Raceway could stay open around the clock under the governor’s proposal to raise

Saratoga Gaming and Raceway could stay open around the clock under the governor’s proposal to raise state revenue by eliminating the restriction on racinos’ hours.

Currently, state law requires video lottery terminals like those at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway to stop working at 2 a.m. and gaming facilities to be open no more than 16 hours a day.

In his executive budget proposed Tuesday, Gov. David A. Paterson proposed scrapping those restrictions, which he said would bring in an additional $45 million in 2010-11 and another $45 million in 2011-12, according to his executive budget Web site.

A spokeswoman for Saratoga Gaming and Raceway said the local racino hasn’t made any plans and is waiting to see what is approved in next year’s budget.

“If it is approved, we’d obviously evaluate it at that point,” said Casey Weakley. “We’re going to do what’s in the best interest of our community and the employees as a whole.”

Saratoga Gaming and Raceway’s gaming floor is currently open the maximum number of hours allowed by law, seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Its Vapor Nightclub stays open until 4 a.m., when bars must stop serving alcohol.

Hours are restricted on holidays such as Christmas.

Police Chief Christopher Cole said Wednesday he would be concerned if the state expanded the racino hours without giving the city money to deal with law enforcement and other issues.

The city lost its subsidy from VLT revenue last year.

“The racino has done a very good job policing themselves,” Cole said.

Still, police must respond to crimes at the facility, mostly thefts and assaults. People sometimes steal winning tickets out of machines when a player turns away or leaves a machine unattended. Purses or wallets are sometimes taken.

“We’ll see assaults, larcenies,” he said. “Do they happen all the time? No, they don’t.”

He would be especially concerned if the gaming floor was open all night.

“When they’re done drinking in Vapor Nightclub, can they go back onto the floor and start gambling?” Cole asked.

Mixing alcohol and gambling is more likely to lead to crime, he said: “Nothing good happens after midnight.”

Greg Dixon, vice president for tourism at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said he isn’t sure whether the older adult population that typically frequents the racino would spend more money if the facility is open later.

“I’m not sure what the impact would be,” he said.

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