State government leaders have an agreement
on the casino gambling issue that could
pave the way for Saratoga County being one
of four places where a state-sanctioned casino
will be established and operated.
On June 19, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo,
Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leaders Dean
Skelos and Jeff Klein, and Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver NY Gaming Economic Development
Act, which would establish four
destination gaming resorts in Upstate New
York and boost tourism and economic development
in the region, according to state
Officials have not released exactly where
the casinos would be located. But the Capital
District region, as well as the Catskills,
are among the general areas stated in the
The matter of casino gambling also has to go to a statewide voter referendum in November.
• The legislation authorizes four upstate destination gaming resorts to enhance tourism development. Destination gaming resorts will be selected competitively based on the economic development impact of the resort.
•Destination gaming resorts are authorized in three regions of the state: the Hudson Valley-Catskill area, the Capital District-Saratoga area, and the Eastern Southern Tier. One region may have up to two casinos if determined by the state siting board.
•No destination gaming resorts can be authorized in Westchester, Rockland, New York City, or Long Island. There will be a seven-year exclusivity period during which no further destination gaming resorts will be licensed by the state.
Cuomo said the agreement with the Legislature “would establish world-class destination gaming resorts to attract tourists to Upstate New York, generating economic activity for local businesses and creating thousands of good paying jobs where we need it most.
This legislation is a major step forward in our efforts to both capitalize on this economic development and tourism potential and end the trend of letting neighboring states with legalized gaming take revenue that should be going to our schools.
“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to make this economic development ‘game plan’ a reality.” Skelos said the agreement “paves the way for critically important economic development to take place throughout Upstate New York and will build on our efforts to revitalize communities, invest in schools and provide statewide property tax relief … This plan, if approved by voters, will greatly benefit Upstate New York and all regions of the state.”
According to Klein, if voters approve the casino gambling plan “these regions will be provided with one of the most promising opportunities in years. Critically, this plan presents a clear opportunity to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for our schools and our children.”
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Racing and Wagering Committee and said, “Our agreement to bring casinos to the Catskills, the Southern Tier and the Capital Region is good for the local economy, the state economy and the people of New York. It will put hundreds of New Yorkers to work and help solidify the entire state as a tourist destination.”
According to the agreement, the State Gaming Commission will oversee regulation of destination gaming resorts. It will appoint a siting board of individuals with expertise in finance and development, which will determine the required minimum amount of capital expenditures and license fee required of a destination gaming resort applicant in each region and make the selections.
Also, existing payments to the racing industry for purses and breeding will be maintained, state officials said.
Cuomo’s office said the board will be required to evaluate destination gaming resort applications based on specific criteria: 70 percent of the decision on siting a destination gaming resort will be based on economic activity and business development factors; 20 percent on local impact and siting factors; and 10 percent on workforce factors.
Local support for the resort application must be demonstrated as a threshold application requirement.
The agreement also says the state’s tax revenues will be split equally between the host municipality and the host county. Ten percent of the state’s tax revenues will go to other counties in the region of the destination gaming resort to provide tax relief or educational assistance. Eighty percent of the tax revenues will be used statewide for elementary and secondary education or property tax relief.
The educational aid will be additive and will not be part of the state’s existing education formula, according to Cuomo.