Upstate Theaters ask for amendment in potential casino expansion - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Upstate Theaters ask for amendment in potential casino expansion


ALBANY, N.Y. - Upstate Theaters for a Fair Game in Albany has announced progress it hopes to make when it comes to the state's proposed casino expansion.

Fair Game, consisting of theaters including Proctors, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Palace Theater and the Saratoga City Center, says they are not against gaming but want a level playing field as casinos can pay performers more money and offer discounts and free tickets to the public.

Fair Game is asking that language be added to the New York Casino Gambling amendment that would establish long term limits on the expansion of the casinos and limit the capacity of their entertainment venues to 1,000 seats.

The changes would also require casino bidders to have partnership agreements with each facility near them to establish exclusivity terms.

"Casino entertainment facilities in Connecticut had a major impact on arts organizations in Hartford, Connecticut, Providence, Rhode Island, New Haven, Boston," said SPAC President Marcia White. "Some of the small not-for-profits had to close their doors."

Fair Game says Governor Andrew Cuomo has endorsed their requests. A vote on a referendum to authorize casino expansion in New York will take place in the November election.

The New York State Gaming Commission released the following statement regarding the Upstate Theater coalition:

"We are in full agreement with the Upstate Theater Coalition regarding the importance of our live entertainment venues.  A major goal of the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act is to enhance and grow New York's tourism attractions, including the state's performing arts venues and arenas.  That's why the siting criteria in the Act declares that prospective casinos should ‘establish a fair and reasonable partnership with live entertainment venues' in the local market.  We will work with the coalition to address all of its concerns regarding language in the RFP that ensures that no casino operator can successfully bid for a New York casino license unless it has a signed partnership agreement with live entertainment venues in the local market in consultation with the Upstate Theater Coalition.  We believe any new gaming resorts must and will provide a major boost for our existing and historic live entertainment venues."

"While we strive to bring in a broad offering of different live entertainment, the Jerry Seinfelds and the John Legends and Bill Mars are our bread and butter," said Holly Brown, Exec. Director Palace Theater.

Brown says she has noticed in some neighboring states theaters have had their performers taken away by Casinos, and she fears what that would mean for the Palace Theater.

"The building is dark a lot. A lot more than it use to be in the past and so I think that's a reality potential reality for all of us."

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