Casino RFA Raises Questions On Likelihood Of Saratoga Springs Casino

Apr 2, 2014

New York state has issued its much-anticipated Request for Applications to casino operators. Now, some observers think siting criteria could keep a full-size casino out of Saratoga Springs after all.

The Request for Applications to Develop and Operate a Gaming Facility in New York State was issued this week by the State Gaming Commission.

Casino operators seeking a full casino license under New York’s new casino gambling law must submit their applications, along with a $1 million application fee. The cost of the license is $50 million.

Twenty percent of the casino siting decision would be based on local support. A related portion of the RFA reads:

As  a  condition  of  filing  an  Application,  each  Applicant  must  submit  to  the  Board  a  resolution  passed by  the  local  legislative  body  of  its  Host  Municipality  supporting  the  Application.  For  purposes  of  this  requirement,  local  support  means  a  post November  5,  2013  resolution  passed  by  the  local  legislative  body  of  the  Host  Municipality  supporting  the  Applicant.

Credit wikipedia commons

However, this could complicate things in Saratoga Springs, seen as a likely location for a Vegas-style casino since even before November’s ballot question passed. The city has a long association with gambling, including the historic Thoroughbred track, and is also home to the Saratoga Casino and Raceway, which has expressed its intent to file an application for a full casino license. In March, the Saratoga Springs City Council passed a measure in opposition to New York’s casino gambling law.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen said she has no knowledge of any application from the Casino and Raceway, and has no intention at the current time of introducing a measure to support such an application.

“There will be no resolution until the community changes their sentiment, and the burden of doing that is on the applicant,” said Yepsen.

Casino opponents with the group SAVE Saratoga say the March vote by the City Council puts a full-size casino in the Spa City out of the question. SAVE Saratoga’s Sara Boivin…

“Our city council did the harder right and for this community, no casino is a done deal,” said Boivin.

Following the city council’s adoption of the resolution against the casino law, the pro-casino Destination Saratoga co-chair Dan Hogan told WAMC the measure does not rule out future discussion or the possibility of a casino at the Saratoga Casino and Racino.

“I think we have our work cut out for us but I certainly don’t think this is in any way, shape or form over,” said Hogan.

Spokeswoman Rita Cox said the Saratoga Casino and Raceway will conduct an evaluation before determining whether or not to proceed in filing a casino license application.

All casino license applicants are required to attend an Applicants Conference on April 30th. All applications are due June 30.

Meanwhile, in a recent release, Republican state Senators Kathy Marchione and Hugh Farley announced funding secured in the state budget would ensure a 27 percent increase in VLT host aid for the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County. 

As the entities hosting the existing VLT gaming facility at the Saratoga Casion and Raceway, the city of Saratoga Springs will receive approximately $2,325,000 in VLT revenues, an increase of about $498,000 over last year. The county will recieve $775,000, an increase of roughly $166,000 over last year’s amount.