That the current employees of Saratoga Casino and Raceway are worried about the competition a Las Vegas-style casino would provide for their employer is hardly surprising. Yes, business might suffer and their jobs might be jeopardized by a new casino 20 or 30 miles down the road. But is that a valid reason for the state siting board to favor the Saratoga application over any of the others that are expected in the coming months? Not really.
Nor should the racino’s plan for a $30 million expansion — including a 120-room hotel, fine-dining restaurant and 20,000-square-foot event space — announced before the vote affirming a constitutional amendment was even passed last year, but as yet under way, influence the selection committee’s choice (as it appears intended to do).
The number of legitimate possible alternatives to the Saratoga option have been growing in recent weeks: There’s one in Rensselaer, there’s one in Moreau, and just Tuesday, Rochester-based Capital Gaming LLC announced it was buying the old Tobin meatpacking plant in Albany. These locations all seem viable, and have as much community support as the Saratoga plan, if not more. (Remember, the statewide referendum didn’t even pass in Saratoga.) And their communities are needier.
Granted, the alternative applicants’ details are still lacking at this point, and they will matter. But the siting board hasn’t been chosen yet, nor has a specific timetable for applications been released. Thus, the selection process hasn’t begun in earnest yet — except for informal lobbying campaigns like the one in Saratoga Springs Tuesday.
As for that, it’s understandable that racino employees want to keep their jobs, but there are undoubtedly people in places like Rensselaer, Moreau and Albany who also want to work.