A survey of businesses in downtown Saratoga Springs shows that most of them oppose a full-blown casino at the harness track. This prompted the usual argument from the pro-casino side.
Morgan Hook, spokesperson for Destination Saratoga, which supports expanding the casino with table games, stated: "We know a full casino is coming to the Capital Region, and the question now is whether it's better for downtown Saratoga businesses to have that casino here or somewhere else nearby......Alternatively, the casino could be built in a location that competes with Saratoga, which would pull hundreds of thousands of visitors away from downtown." [Albany Times Union]Similar to the standard "we're losing gambling dollars to other states" argument, it's the usual fear-mongering rather than discussing what a casino with a hotel and entertainment and a multi-purpose event center, and which profits by keeping its patrons on its site, would do for downtown merchants.
Last year, according to Hook, Saratoga Casino and Raceway drew 2.1 million visitors to the city. If a casino is built in a competing location, it could “pull hundreds of thousands of visitors away from downtown,” Hook said. [Saratogian]But I might think that downtown business owners would know anecdotally whether or not their business is boosted by slots players; and the result of this poll would indicate that most of them don't believe that's the case. Not that the racino owners such as James Featherstonhaugh really care what they think anyway.
Governor Cuomo says that he has had no discussions with the Seneca tribe about reopening the state's compact with the tribe in order to allow it to pursue a casino in the Rochester area. The Senecas currently operate three casinos and are limited by the compact to that number, unless it gets permission from the state and the feds to renegotiate it. In typical Cuomo-ese, the governor said: "It hasn't been discussed. Anything can happen theoretically in life, but other than that, no."
Er, this guy is gonna run for president, seriously? Well, I guess anything can happen in life! Maybe Cuomo will actually go to one of the racetracks that he controls this year!
Over in Massachusetts, voters in Revere are getting set for the dramatic vote this Tuesday on a Mohegan Sun casino on the Suffolk Downs site, the result of which will determine that racetrack's future. The mayor of that city is accusing residents of Everett, the proposed site of Steve Wynn's competing casino bid, of playing dirty politics in his town.
“I’ve got a very close friend of mine who happens to be friends with one of the ‘No Casino’ sign-holders, who, by the way, happens to live in Everett,” Mayor Dan Rizzo said. “So my friend said to him, ‘Geez, what are you doing out here, what are you over in Revere for?’ He goes, ‘Oh, I was told to come and hold a sign.’Revere has a population of 53,179 (as of the 2012 census), so Mayor Rizzo must be quite the flesh-presser in order to recognize all of them! Steve Wynn denied any involvement on his part. Meanwhile, local clergymen continue to rail against the proposal. But, as usual, the big money is on the casino side; Mohegan Sun has spent $400,000 in support.
As I drive by these ‘No Casino’ sign-holders, and I’m mayor of this city, I don’t recognize any of them. I don’t know who they are. [Boston Herald]
Meanwhile, in another twist in this endlessly twisted situation, Mohegan Sun is being sued by the landlord of the site in Palmer where the company had originally sought a casino before it was voted down by 94 votes. Northeast Realty Associates is seeking to bar Mohegan Sun from operating a casino in Revere, or anywhere in the state other than Palmer. Yeah, that would be a problem for Suffolk Downs, should they get past next Tuesday.
The planned suit.....alleges Mohegan Sun opened talks with the racetrack to build in Revere in early October, a month before it lost a Nov. 5 referendum. The suit also accuses the company of basically tanking the Palmer referendum fight once it learned a more lucrative opportunity had opened in Revere. [Boston Herald]The company wants Mohegan Sun to relinquish its lease on the land, and accuses it of refusing to do so in order to prevent any possibility of a casino to compete with the company's flagship casino in Connecticut.