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Albany Supports No Casino

WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas

With the casino application deadline fast approaching in New York, the city of Albany is apparently not supporting any of the projects proposed for neighboring cities.

Local municipal approval is required for applicants seeking one of four casino licenses expected to be granted in upstate New York this fall. The developers face a Monday deadline to submit their casino applications. More than a dozen development groups are in the running to apply for a license.

Tenth ward council member Leah Golby says that on Wednesday, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan sent a short letter to Common Council members, asking they not endorse any of the projects prior to the deadline.     "Ever since E23 ended, there  really has been very minimal discussion about casino. We knew obviously there were other casinos in the region that are in the mix that are seeking our support, but, we really didn't have much information from them. they haven't made a presentation to us. So once our final June meeting occurred, as far as I was concerned, unless somebody called for a special meeting, we were not going to be voting on any type of resolution supporting or not supporting a particular casino or casinos as a whole."

Observers say city officials have yet to assess the possible impact any of the gaming facilities might have on Albany.   Since none of the local proposals are inside the city or county, Albany is not in line for any monetary benefits casinos would pay host communities, although it well could suffer from the negative aspects gambling halls bring to municipalities.

Third Ward council member Ron Bailey says he has had conversations with the Rensselaer and East Greenbush casino developers.    "Each of them has shared with me that they were willing to do job fairs in the city of Albany, for people to get jobs. And they were willing to look at Albany as a support for their casino. I don't know what's going on as far as in the mayor's office, because, that's who they are mainly meeting with, the mayor's office."

Both Mayor Sheehan and her chief of staff, Matt Peter, were in meetings, unavailable for comment.

Neighboring Massachusetts is embroiled in its own casino dilemma - House Speaker Robert DeLeo says state budget officials and lawmakers would have to make some "tough decisions" if voters repeal the casino gambling law in November. DeLeo says the proposed state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1st assumes $54 million in licensing revenue from the casino law.

Back in the Empire State, The New York Gaming Commission has postponed a decision to appoint a fourth member to the board reviewing casino proposals.

The Gaming Facility Location Board  is tasked with reviewing the plans of developers looking to win one of the up to four casino licenses available for upstate New York. The board is authorized to have up to five members. It currently has three.

Details of the casino proposals continue to emerge as the June 30 deadline for developers to submit plans nears.

The group behind a $425 million casino being proposed in the Finger Lakes announced Wednesday that the development would be called Lago Resort & Casino.  Two Orange County communities have endorsed proposed casinos. The Times Herald Record reports Tuxedo's town board backed a proposal Wednesday evening from Resorts World while Caesars Entertainment got support from officials in Woodbury.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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