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Casino litmus test for Saratoga Chamber

Support from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce for a constitutional amendment allowing live-table casinos will require more than just siting live-table games in Saratoga Springs.

The chamber's Board of Directors adopted a four-point policy statement, which outlines certain guarantees they want from state leaders before casino siting legislation is approved.

1. The location of future full-scale casinos shall be limited to the current approved VLT and racing locations, including the Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

2. The specific cities and counties approved to host casinos be provided with reasonable and fixed annual host-benefit payments to defray local costs associated with expanded casino operations and/or to minimize or reduce real property taxes;

3. The monies now explicitly designated for purses, capital improvements, the operation of the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga Race Courses and the New York State breeding program be fixed at a minimum level equivalent to revenues provided for these same purposes by the VLT at Aqueduct, in 2012.

4. The monies now explicitly designated for reinvestment from the VLT at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway for enhanced purses and support for local breeders to ensure the continued successful operation of the Saratoga Harness Track also be fixed at a minimum level equivalent to revenues provided by the Saratoga Casino, in 2012.

None of the two major siting plans, one from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one from the Senate Republicans, would guarantee a casino for Saratoga Springs. Cuomo's plan has established four possible regions, including a Capital Region, that are eligible for three casinos and the Senate Republican plan allows for one casino in the Capital Region.

Local state legislators have introduced legislation that would ensure live-table games would go to the Saratoga Casino & Raceway.

The plan from the Senate Republican plan does offer the funding for breeders and racing purses that the chamber wants. Cuomo's plan makes no similar guarantees.

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