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Monday, September 22, 2014

Public Comment Session Provides Chance for Casino Supporters Too

The focus on this blog has been mostly on the groups that are trying to stop a casino from being built in their town....such as Save East Greenbush, whose attorney was scheduled to speak at Monday's public hearing, now underway, at 8:05 AM.  (Three 12-hour marathon sessions, one in each region.)  He'll be followed by a host of other opponents to the project, including the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY, who will be speaking out against the inappropriate placement of a gambling venue bordering their wooded camp for girls. [Times Union]

But there will also be speakers from communities that are apparently largely in favor of a casino.  Based on this video below cooked up by the Howe Caverns bidders (who obviously have no qualms about playing the Hurricane Irene card), some of those appeals could be quite emotional.

On Sunday, there was a pep rally for the Howe Caverns casino which drew 1,500 people. 

With planes flying overhead, and live bands in the background, organizers said they are ready to make the final push in the fight to get a New York casino license.
The pitches made in favor of the Nevele facility could be even more heartfelt considering how long the Catskills region has been trying to attract a casino, or two.  Nevele CEO Angel Brummer says that this is the first time she’s been involved in a project that has 100 percent community support. [Daily Freeman]  (This is also the casino that will completely eliminate unemployment in Ellenville, or so we've been told; so this group likes to speak in absolutes!) And indeed, these Catskills communities are desperate for casinos; they've been trying to get them for some three decades.
Widespread support for the project is evident, not only by viewing the list of endorsements the project has received — which range from local officials to chambers of college, tourism officials, area colleges and not-for-profit organizations — but also by the proliferation of signs placed in the yards of residents throughout southern Ulster County welcoming the Nevele back to the community.
We'll hear similar appeals from the supporters of the two projects bidding for licenses to build at The Concord, in Sullivan County.....including from Scott Samuelson, the chairman of the county legislature.  (And also from Orange County officials.  A casino sited there would preclude the Nevele being selected, as they affirmed to the location board during their presentation that they will not build under that circumstance.  Should make for a lively session on Tuesday.)  I suppose we'll also hear from people in Newburgh talking about the dire economic condition of that city.

Those will all be passionate stories to be sure.  People in those communities desperately need jobs.  It's hard for an outsider to tell them they shouldn't be given this opportunity to see them created.  It's a sad situation that it has come to this.  Because while a casino may, for now, fulfill their promises in that respect and provide some relief to the long-term unemployed, there's no question that some, if not a good deal, of the money that supports them will come from those who can't afford it, and/or who have an issue with gambling.  If the Catskills got a casino resort 30 years ago, then it would no doubt have been something that would have attracted customers from around the region.  Now, it's far more likely that much of the revenue will be local and a regressive revenue source.

We shall see, but I would think that casino opponents have a better chance of influencing the outcome than do the supporters.  Whereas repeatedly singing the praises of casinos can have, I would imagine, diminishing returns as the days go on (and on, and on...), the more opposition in a community that can be established, would - again, in my estimation - have a better chance of sowing the seed of doubt amongst the board members.  Doubt that the particular project qualifies in relation to the others in satisfying the 20% of the evaluation process that is supposed to be devoted to community support.  And doubt that the project won't be delayed by a flurry of lawsuits by impassioned opponents.