Countless sums of money have been wagered on horses in Saratoga Springs over the past 150 years, but now city and county leaders are hoping to expand options for gamblers. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on a growing push to bring a casino to the Spa City.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -– Gambling is nothing new in Saratoga Springs. The 150th anniversary of the "Summer Place to Be" will be celebrated in the coming new year.
“Gambling is something that we've done in this community since the early days and we've had a success here,” said Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch, a city native.
For the past nine years, that tradition of testing your luck has included the Saratoga Casino and Raceway, which combines video slot machines and harness racing.
With state lawmakers now considering a bill to legalize full casino gambling in New York, local leaders are hopeful it will be chosen as the site of a future casino.
"We've increased our business just about every year, we have fantastic amenities, I think we have a great mix of racing, entertainment and gaming as well as dining options,” Saratoga Casino and Raceway Vice President Skip Carlson said. “I think we'd be a natural and our location doesn't get any better than Saratoga."
On Tuesday, both the Saratoga Springs City Council and County Board of Supervisors passed resolutions urging lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo to choose the racino as a future casino site should a gambling bill pass next year.
While the Governor supports selecting geographic areas in advance, he does not want specific locations written into the legislation before it goes to a public vote.
"My druthers would be a more flexible, open process to get the best applications, the best plans we can," Governor Cuomo told reporters Tuesday, following his cabinet meeting.
According to executives, adding a full scale casino to the shovel ready site would make way for a new hotel, dining options, parking garage and up to 350 additional jobs.
The operation already provides roughly $100 million in yearly revenue to the state education department and standard bred industry, benefits locals believe would be magnified with a full scale casino in town.
"People find entertainment in it in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County and it's something that we definitely want to keep having people come here for going forward," Veitch said.
"A lot of jobs would be at stake and I just think it's a natural and I hope it gets done but I know it's a process that doesn't happen overnight," Carlson said.
For casino gambling to pass, it must be voted on by two consecutive legislatures before going to a public vote. It has already passed the legislature once.
If legalized, no more than seven casinos would be permitted in the state.