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Arts Venues: Limit Casino Entertainment

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

A veritable"who's who" of leaders of Capital Region arts non-profits gathered in a show of solidarity under the moniker "Upstate Theaters for a Fair Game." The group hopes to educate the public on what it sees as potential negative effects of casino expansion on what it refers to as "local entertainment ecosystems," noting that mid-sized arts and entertainment venues in neighboring states have been impacted by casino-based entertainment offerings. Group chair and Proctors CEO Philip Morris emphasizes the aim is to ensure a level playing field is created for all entertainment venues seeking to bring talent to their communities.

Saratoga City Center President Mark Baker believes an expanded gaming facility (in the Capital Region) would be devastating and dramatic to local performing arts organizations and convention centers.

Arts reps from Saratoga are concerned that exclusive events at a casino, should one appear near the Spa City, would drain the life and revenue out of downtown at a rate of about a million dollars a month. Coalition co-chair Marcia White, President and Executive Director of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, explained the group is NOT anti-casino or anti-gambling.

The arts reps say it boils down to the fact that for-profit groups have the monetary power to cut better deals with talent agents and booking agencies than non-profits. Voters will decide the fate of the casino referendum November 5th.

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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