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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Bet On Us

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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Las Vegas-style gambling could be coming to New York State, and nine of New York’s existing casinos, including Saratoga Casino and Raceway, argue that only existing licensed facilities should be allowed to host the expanded operations.

A study released by the New York Gaming Association (NYGA), which represents New York’s nine racetrack casinos, is asking the state to consider a constitutional amendment to, “expand the range of gaming activities that its members are permitted to offer, to include the full range of table games.”

The study reveals that between the nine existing casinos, the operations account for more than $1.96 billion in statewide economic output, provide over 17,400 jobs (directly and indirectly), and pay salaries and wages that total to approximately $863 million.

Based on these successes, operators argue that only their sites should be allowed to pursue new opportunities in gambling, and not parties from out-of-state who have no investment in the local communities. After all, the casinos have a proven track record of helping to support New York residents and government. If out-of-state companies were allowed to run expanded gaming operations, some fear money traditionally invested locally could be diverted to locations and interests separate from New York State.

“We’re a known entity, a proven operator and a proven partner with the state and the community,” said Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing and external affairs at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. “We’re active members of this community and we’re very much concerned with our community and maintaining a quality of life that has made Saratoga such a successful tourist destination.”

Locally, Saratoga Casino and Raceway directly employs 622 people, including 400 full-time staff members. Total payroll for their staff is in excess of $15 million for the current year. The casino also donated $250,000 to local nonprofit organizations in 2011, has contributed over half a billion dollars to New York State Education since 2004, has provided $11.53 million in aid to local government, and has plans for a major expansion project should full-scale gambling be legalized.

“We’re looking at a long-term impact of about 300 permanent and fulltime jobs and 400 temporary union jobs to build the expansion project,” said Cox, who noted the proposal is based on the notion that only existing, licensed facilities would be able to implement the new gaming options. “If that were to change and it were not just the existing licensed facilities, there could be a very direct impact in terms of the number of jobs created in Saratoga,” she said.

The state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo must first pass an amendment to the state constitution to allow for expanded gaming before any operation is allowed to pursue it. With the wording of the measure still unknown, many racetrack casinos are concerned that outside companies may move into the state and open establishments separate from the track. If free-standing casinos were allowed into New York, the NYGA worries that revenue will not be put back into the racing industry, as the current crop of New York casinos currently do.

To view the full study released by NYGA, titled, “Racetrack Casinos in New York State: Current Economic Impact,” visit www.newyorkgaming.org/Libraries/Appleseed_Statewide_Study/Appleseed_Statewide_Study_-_Part_1.sflb.ashx.

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