Shortly after New York voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing the construction of seven Las Vegas-style casinos around the state, a spokesman for the state Gaming Commission indicated “there are no foregone conclusions” on where the casinos will be sited, and “every single application is going to be weighted the same.” We hope that’s the case, and that the Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s promised application isn’t the slam-dunk many people once assumed.
Indeed, there are at least a couple of compelling reasons for not putting the Capital Region’s casino in Saratoga Springs. One is that voters in both the county and city voted against the amendment. Two is that other areas around the region need the economic boost a casino might bring more than Saratoga does. Why not share the “wealth” a bit?
While the Saratoga Casino and Raceway has already announced plans for a $30 million expansion — including a 120-room hotel, fine-dining restaurant and 20,000 square-foot event space — the five-member siting board shouldn’t feel pressured. An unidentified developer in Rensselaer County, where voters approved the constitutional amendment on Election Day, reportedly plans to submit an application as part of the DeLaet’s Landing Hudson riverfront project. And the Rensselaer City Council has unanimously endorsed the idea.
Rensselaer, one of the most economically depressed cities in the region, could use the boost a casino purports to bring, whereas Saratoga Springs — at the opposite end of the spectrum — could lose plenty if a casino complex near the outskirts lured people away from existing downtown restaurants, hotels and businesses.