03/05/2014 12:30PM

Saratoga Springs city council overwhelmingly rejects casino

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The Saratoga Springs City Council, in a 5-0 vote, approved a resolution on Tuesday night stating its opposition to a full-blown casino in the city, a ceremonial vote that reflects the community’s concern that additional gambling will hurt local businesses.

The vote by the council came four months after a statewide referendum on allowing up to four casinos in upstate New York was approved by voters. Residents of Saratoga Springs, however, had voted against the proposal.

Saratoga Raceway, a harness track that has operated a slot-machine casino in Saratoga Springs since 2004, is seeking one of the four licenses available to upstate casino locations. However, Standardbred horsemen in the state oppose the effort, which would allow Saratoga Raceway to operate table games and other machines not currently considered legal under the law allowing the track to operate so-called video-lottery terminals.

The casino is also opposed by local restaurants, shops, and hotels, which would face competition from any amenities offered in an expanded casino operation. In addition, any money lost in the casino would be money that could not be spent at other locations in the city, which has become an enormously popular destination location for vacationers from late July to early September, during the Thoroughbred meet at Saratoga Race Course.