- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Owners of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway have dropped a push to bring Las Vegas-style gambling to the city known for its horse racing, announcing Monday that they are instead focusing on building a casino closer to Albany.

The facility’s owners are seeking a license to operate a casino in East Greenbush in Rensselaer County, just across the Hudson from the state’s capital, according to a statement from the Casino and Raceway’s spokeswoman.

The decision came after officials and residents in Saratoga Springs objected to plans for a full casino, saying it would damage the city’s character and hurt local businesses.

A state constitutional amendment passed last year authorizes the casinos. A majority of Saratoga County voters opposed the measure, while voters in East Greenbush supported it.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen said in a statement that the owners of Saratoga Casino and Raceway “recognized that the majority of our citizens expressed their opposition to a full casino resort in our city.”

Yepsen noted that the state’s new casino law was intended to help economically struggling cities and said Saratoga already has a “thriving downtown, successful city center, two horse race tracks and a wealth of natural beauty and cultural assets.”

The casino and raceway features slot machines and electronic table games in addition to harness racing. The facility’s owners declined to offer specifics on the new proposed site Monday. East Greenbush Supervisor Keith Langley said he’s eager to hear more. The Town Board voted unanimously last week in support of bringing a casino in the town.

“It appears we may have a solid proposal that can be placed before the town for review,” Langley said in an email. “It’s still early, and we are looking to see what details and plans are presented.”

Groups interested in winning one of four upstate New York casino licenses have until Wednesday to pay a $1 million application fee. Selections will be made in the fall.

Besides the Albany-Saratoga region, the other sites for potential casinos are the Catskills and the Southern Tier.

Empire Resorts announced Monday that it had submitted its $1 million fee to the New York State Gaming Commission for its proposal to build a casino in the Catskills. The project would also include a 391-room hotel, restaurants, a conference center and entertainment facilities.

Muss Development and Foxwoods Resort Casino have also expressed interest in building a casino in the Catskills. Spokesman John Gallagher confirmed Monday that the group planned to submit its $1 million application fee by the state’s deadline.

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