He never mentioned casinos by name in his Tuesday budget address, but a line in Governor Cuomo's formal proposal suggests the state's first Vegas-style casinos could be open in one year's time. Time Warner Cable News Reporter Matt Hunter has more on what that could mean for Saratoga.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – “Our challenge now is to make casinos a reality."
That line was offered three weeks ago during Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Address. He was back at the podium Tuesday for his annual budget presentation, only this time he made no direct reference to casinos.
"You look at this agenda and what we want to do, it's historic," Cuomo said at one point during his more than 40 minute speech.
While his remarks avoided casino gambling, his formal proposal does not. A line reads "casinos are expected to be open as early as January 2015," a date earlier than many anticipated.
"It's an ambitious timetable and I hope the Governor is successful at it," said John Sabini, former Chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
Many insiders believe the quick timetable gives operators like Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Tioga Downs, which both have video slot machine operations in place already, a leg up securing a casino bid.
"If they want to press an ambitious timetable, it may scare off some people who think they can't be ready in time," Sabini said.
"We applaud the Governor's efforts to make sure this moves quickly,” Saratoga Casino and Raceway VP of Marketing Rita Cox said Thursday. “We believe we can make it happen faster than anywhere else in the state, definitely anywhere in the region."
The potential of table games coming to the city within twelve months is not welcome news to members of Saratoga's anti-casino group, SAVE.
"His statement I think is rhetoric in terms of making the racinos look more favorable," said Sara Boivin, who sits on the Steering Committee of Saratogians Against Vegas-style Expansion.
While a request for an on-camera interview was denied, Lee Park, a Spokesperson for the State Gaming Commission says they plan to adhere to the Governor's timeline and are actively interviewing candidates for the Gaming Facility Location Board, which will select the casino sites. That board is expected to be named in the "near future."
If that timeline is upheld, sites could be announced by early Fall, giving operators a matter of months to get up and running by January
"I hope in the rush to do this, we don't force people out who have more ambitious plans," Sabini said.
"We could definitely have elements up and running within three to four months of selection," said Cox, who added a timeline would be more clear once their formal plans are developed.