02/14/2002 1:00AM

Saratoga board votes for slots


The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, by a near unanimous decision, approved legislation allowing video lottery machines at the city's harness track. The vote was 20-3 in favor of the slot-like machines.

Supporters of the gambling devices believe they will put the struggling 61-year-old harness track, lacross the street from Saratoga's Thoroughbred track, on firmer financial ground. Opponents, including anti-gambling groups, argue the machines will not benefit the local economy.

The New York Racing Association, which operates Saratoga Race Course's six-week meet, is vehemently opposed to the plan to bring slots to the harness track. Barry Schwartz, NYRA's chairman, campaigned against the slots in a letter sent to the county board last month.

On Thursday before the votes were cast, Schwartz said, "We're not going to win, I know we're not going to win. The only hope is that they don't allow the machines to be operated versus our meet."

Schwartz said he would not support a compromise plan to shut the machines down from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saratoga's live race days. "Forty-six weeks ought to be enough of them," he said.

- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty