As our community engages in one of the most important conversations we’ve had in a decade, on the merits of expanding gaming in Saratoga, an important voice has been left out of that conversation: that of the 630 people currently employed by Saratoga Casino and Raceway. As one of those employees, I’m here to tell you that we have a lot to say, and we do not appreciate attempts by casino opponents to shame us into silence.
My colleagues and I have been called pawns, told that jobs like ours aren’t what our community needs and that we were being manipulated and exploited. One person went so far as to call us “slaves on a corporate plantation.” These are not just extraordinarily disrespectful comments; they’re also false.
I started at SCR 10 years ago, when I was an unemployed single mother raising two young girls. At the time, I wondered how I was going to support them, let alone put them through college. Despite having more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment field, potential employers told me I was either over-qualified or not experienced enough for the job.
Then Saratoga Casino and Raceway gave me a job. In the 10 years since then, not only have I grown with the company and supported my family, but today, I’m the proud mother of two private college graduates — both of whom were employed part time by SCR during their senior years at Saratoga Springs High School and during college breaks.
My story is not unique. Many of my co-workers have also been here for years, earning good money that puts food on their tables, pays for their mortgage and taxes, and is invested back into the local economy.
That’s why we support the expansion — and the 600 to 700 new jobs it would add. Those jobs would give our friends and neighbors the same opportunity we’ve had. And we know the need is still there in our community, after our human resources office received 3,000 job applications last year alone.
I take it personally when anti-casino activists denigrate our jobs as inadequate for this community or when they smear the owners and operators.
The company I work for has given me more opportunities than I have ever had in my past work experiences.
They provide health insurance, paid vacation and sick leave, a 401K with an employer match, yearly pay raises, Christmas bonuses, turkeys at Thanksgiving, company events for our families to attend, parties for employees’ younger children, and a rewards and recognition program.
In addition, they contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and our rewards and recognition program supports local business.
Keep debate civil
So as this debate continues, I’d ask for civility and respect. We’ve earned it.
Hundreds of people feed their families, buy homes, send their kids to college and support local businesses by working at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. We matter, our jobs matter, and if you want to truly represent the people in this community, ask us how we feel. But please, do not say you speak for us.
Kathleen Anderson is the director of entertainment at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, where she has worked since 2004.