RSS Feed for this Blog

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saratoga Casino Supporters Emerge

The battle has been joined in Saratoga, where a pro-casino group has emerged in response to the anti-casino SAVE group that we wrote about recently.  Destination Saratoga is the name of the new outfit, and if you think of have a notion of who is behind this, you're probably right.

 Destination Saratoga is a coalition of local officials, business leaders, small business owners, community members, and....... [ellipsis added by the blog administrator for effect]......Saratoga Casino and Raceway
Ah, yes.  Well, you didn't think that the harness track and its part-owner, and New York Gaming Association president, James Feathersilversteinamorenohaugh were going to take this sitting down, did you?

Here's their website, and their pitch is particularly insidious because it not only touts the economic benefits of jobs and potential revenue streams which they claim would result from what they call an "incremental expansion at a casino that has operated for decades, with a long-standing track record of responsible gaming," but it also details all of the horrible things that will happen to the town if the casino slated for the Capitol region goes to someone else.
 Q: What happens if the casino is built elsewhere in the Capital Region or goes to a developer other than Saratoga Casino and Raceway?

A: If the license for our region is granted to another developer, an out-of-state operator opening a behemoth Las Vegas-style casino in our community is a strong possibility. The residents of Saratoga don’t want that, and neither do we. If the casino goes elsewhere, then Saratoga Springs will not only miss an opportunity to reap the benefits, but our existing tourist attractions will actually be hurt by the competition. Saratoga Casino and Raceway will likely have to reduce its workforce – by as many as 240 jobs – and the City of Saratoga Springs would be in jeopardy of losing up to $700,000 and Saratoga County up to $240,000 annually.
And here we go. I mean, where should we start? Well, for one thing, I don't think that any gambling facility that is open from 9AM until 4AM every day of the year falls under the label of "responsible gaming." That's just nonsense, ridiculous.  And "a casino that has operated for decades?"  IT OPENED IN 2004!!! No, nobody is going to build a behemoth Las Vegas-style casino in the community, assuming that the harness track would keep its pledge not to. If Saratoga is chosen as the site, it will obviously be located there and not awarded to someone else. I wouldn't classify an alternate location such as, for example, Rensselaer as being in the community.  And the threat of job losses is just that; a threat, and a bullying and blustering one at that by the employer with the power to make that decision. And the small matter that the referendum was soundly defeated in the city of Saratoga Springs?  The question is actually raised on the FAQ page, and then totally ignored.  Because they don't care what the people decided.

As usual, we have, on one side, a grassroots movement talking from the heart about their concerns, based on real experiences in other locales, about the effect of a full-scale casino on their historic community and the local businesses therein.  And then, on the other side, we get the cynical bullshit from the guys with the money who want more. As I've been saying, I believe that this thing is in the bag for the harness track. But Jimmy Feathers is going to do what he can to sway public opinion, even if that takes threats and downright lies! Opeated for decades, seriously man, gimme a break.

 - Got in my email box the other day a link to this letter from Phil Langley, the president of the US Trotting Association, to Alex Waldrop, the NTRA president, in his Chairman hat at Racing Medication and Technology Consortium.  The gist of the letter, citing the frequency with which harness horses race and the different medication needs as a result, is that the existing rules for the use of clenbuterol and corticosteroids for standardbreds should not be changed because of the death and disarray turmoil in the thoroughbred and quarter horse industries.  And it gets a little pointed.
We certainly agree that Thoroughbreds need to be very careful in what they administer because history shows that breed of horse is very susceptible to catastrophic breakdowns.

Nonetheless, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved the standards set by Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication Reform, and did so across all the breeds, which does not make the harness guys there happy at all.


Steve in NC said...

Whenever someone promotes a proposal in the name of "job creation" that functions by giving more money and/or power to millionaires or billionaires, hold onto your wallet.

This is a 3-card Monty operation separating casino customers and taxpayers alike from their cash.

Figless said...

The only valid argument the Spa Casino makes is what would happen if a full fledged casino was opened somewhere else in the region?

There is plenty of cheap land up there, so its entirely feasible a large gaming company could create a Foxwoods type resort from scratch in the woods somewhere, perhaps along the river.

Not that I am concerned as we know the fix is in, but something like that could in fact hurt Saratoga, both the town and the track.

Figless said...

I commend Kentucky for jumping on board, I was very skeptical.

Perhaps in this sudden culture of cooperation they can agree to ban Lasix in all Grade Stakes as well.

ljk said...

I'll say it again. There has been no referendum asking citizens that now that a casino license is available, would it make sense to place it in Saratoga.

Anonymous said...


You might put the 'Saratoga Wire' on your list of site to check out.

They recently had a article about a telephone poll in Saratoga Springs:

Steve in NC said...

Alan, if you get back to the Lasix issue, you'll probably have snarky fun dissecting the NY Times article on the BC study, compared with the Natalie Voss article on Paulick's website, which actually gave reasoned analysis.

Drape never bothered mentioning that only BC horses were in the non-lasix group, and only non-BC horses were in the lasix group. Or that trainers of horses with bleeding issues likely would have kept their horses out of the lasix-free 2yo BC races. Not a random sample, but the results were surprising nonetheless.

I'm a Lasix opponent, but that study is not a game changer. The NY Times headline writer had the correct take; Drape's article subtly led people to premature conclusions.

I gave Drape some license when he took up the drug/safety issues, because I was glad to be seeing them raised at all, but I'm done with that.

It sucks to have a paper of the Times' stature doing such shoddy reporting on factual matters affecting racing issues.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to science reporting by the Times.
When it comes to health reporting, which I have some background in, Natalie Angiers is tremendous.

But before you jump to any conclusions based on Gina Kolata's articles (and they often do encourage one to jump), read the actual scientific studies yourself.

jk said...

Cuomo has big egg on face after this debacle. It was not long ago he pounded his chest over the big raises the casino workers received from unionizing.

Resorts World closes buffet, lets go of more than 100 employees

By Maggie Hayes
Monday, January 6th, 2014 3:35 PM EST

Resorts World Casino shut the doors to its Aqueduct Buffet on Monday, and in turn on about 175 employees.

ljk said...

From NY Times article. Bemusing to me that she assumes either option will hurt Saratoga. Glass half empty. I agree that the previous referendum is now moot.

“Now that the referendum has passed, the question of whether we are for or against casino-style gambling is moot,” said Joanne Dittes Yepsen, a former county supervisor who took office as Saratoga’s mayor this month. “There is a new question that needs to be answered: Will Saratoga Springs be hurt more if the casino is placed in a nearby municipality or within the city itself?”