SARATOGA SPRINGS N.Y. – The Saratoga City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to oppose casino expansion in their city.
In November, New Yorkers passed a proposition to allow seven Las Vegas-style casinos to be built.
Four casinos are expected to be built throughout Upstate New York, and expanding gambling at Saratoga Casino and Raceway is a possibility.
But that's becoming an issue because more than 50 percent of voters in Saratoga Springs voted against the idea.
Supporters of the idea say it will create economic growth; those who refute believe expanding the casino in Saratoga will lead to more crime and hurt the downtown area.
Speaker after speaker lined up for what could be their last chance to collectively voice their opinion to city leaders on whether or not the city should try and get one of the four gaming licenses up for grabs.
More than 300 people attended the meeting and many stood up to talk. At times the meeting was nearly out of control as emotions overflowed.
"I will hear nothing more on this topic from you," one meeting attendee yelled.
One speaker in opposition said a casino would not make Saratoga more of a destination.
"This casino will not make us more of a destination. It will make the casino a destination. Not Saratoga," he said.
While some were against the expansion of gaming in Saratoga, some in support also attended the meeting saying the benefits mirror the benefits of the race track.
"It brings so many people to town supporting our hotels and businesses," a woman said. "They also help businesses prosper but year round."
The room was literally divided over the decision. People in the meeting in white shirts support expansion but not Las Vegas-style, and they want to wait for the state. People in red shirts at the meeting didn't want casinos at all.
"I think these are a bunch of people, both the red shirts and the white shirts, who are saying don't bother me with the facts I've already made up my mind," one man said.
The city unanimously passed a resolution 5-0 that says it would not support a Las Vegas-style casino in Saratoga Springs.
The mayor asked for concerns to now be directed to the gaming board and state leaders.
The city states that it will continue to monitor and evaluate the casino process in its resolution. The resolution also states that they will review the request for application once it's been released by the state to work towards a solution that is in the best interest of the state.
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