Bethlehem comes out against neighboring casino plan
BETHLEHEM Prospective Capital Region casino operators looking for support from Bethlehem better think again.
Members of the Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday opposing a casino being sited near Bethlehem or elsewhere in the Capital Region.
Though the resolution isn’t expected to have any immediate impact on the casino proposals being developed in surrounding communities, because only the opinions of actual host communities will be considered, town Supervisor John Clarkson said the measure is intended to send a message that all municipalities should enter into a public debate about the impact live table games could have around the region.
“We are concerned with the welfare of the entire community, the impact on citizens, and we question the long-term economic and fiscal benefit of such ventures,” he said.
The resolution was passed during a 90-minute public hearing at which the developers and prospective operators of a casino proposed near Thruway Exit 23 were to be on hand to discuss their plans. But representatives of Global Gaming Solutions — the commercial arm of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma — informed town officials late last week that they would need more time to compile details about their proposal before addressing the public.
“There really is no more information about the E23 proposal than there was when it came out [in March],” Clarkson said. “In fact there seems to be even less now.”
Global Gaming is the intended operator teaming with Rochester-based Flaum Management and Capital District Off-Track Betting Corp. to pursue the $300 million casino project dubbed E23. Though located within the city of Albany, the vacant land where E23 is proposed is close to the Bethlehem border — something that has led to concerns in the town over how a casino could impact the community.
Contacted Wednesday, David Flaum of Flaum Management had no comment.
The E23 proposal requires a resolution of support from Albany’s Common Council in order to be reviewed by the state Gaming Commission’s facility location board. But the application itself also requires operators to show elements of support in the area beyond city borders.
Local support will account for 20 percent of the decision on siting, according to the request for applications released by the commission last month. Applicants are asked to demonstrate support from a variety of sources, including nearby local governments, private organizations, religious and civic groups, charitable organizations, entertainment venues, chambers of commerce and local businesses.
Clarkson said the general tenor of comments offered by Bethlehem residents is that a casino won’t be a positive addition to either the town or region.
Now he said Bethlehem wants to reach out to other communities to increase the breadth of dialogue about the casino that will inevitably land somewhere in the Capital Region.
“We’d like to see a broader discussion concerning the siting of these facilities,” he said.