In a Reader’s View submitted to The Saratogian, the city council member argues that the casino would threaten downtown businesses, the City Center as an event space and the Saratoga Racecourse through competition.
“Our racetrack charges admissions and patrons pay to park; how will the racetrack fare against the free admission, parking and beverages that the casino offers?” he asked, and though I’m sure no one was ever kept out by the $3 admission, his point is taken.
“By allowing a casino resort into our city we are giving up any say or control and we are inviting subsidized competition to unfairly challenge our historic racetrack, downtown, and city center and will likely disrupt the quality of life and uniqueness that we are charged with protecting as elected officials.”
He isn’t the first City Council member to submit Reader’s Views on the subject. In January, both Michele Madigan and Christian Mathiesen submitted their views, though neither took as definite a stance as Scirocco did.
Two common themes flow through all three of their arguments: more development at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway create a small, manufactured casino complex with shops, restaurants and a hotel for downtown establishments to compete with; and the city needs more control over what goes on at the casino.
“Without some control and oversight over what could eventually be built in our city, it will be difficult to support expanded casino gambling within our boundaries,” Madigan wrote in her letter.
Mathiesen wrote something a little more firm, and also invoked the need for guaranteed money from the state as a hosting community.
“Without ironclad guarantees of annual income for the city and county, consistency with our comprehensive plan and city council and land-use board control to limit the Saratoga Casino and Raceway to a moderately expanded stand-alone facility, I cannot support their proposal.”
Mathiesen and Scirocco’s thinking was the same on that point too.
Scirocco said, basically, that the money that the city could take in as a host community can’t be counted on, pointing to state money for hosting Video Lottery Terminals the city saw evaporate in 2009 and with it, funding for 10 cops and as many firefighters.
Of course, all of their discussion of whether to allow a casino may be a moot point, regardless, since as he points out: “Unlike Massachusetts, the New York State Gaming and Development Act was written without home rule; meaning that the Massachusetts voters have the power to veto any proposed casino resort in their community and we do not.”