The realities of new Utica casino proposal
When Governor Cuomo announced his plan to bring three new casinos to Upstate New York in his state of the state address, many communities saw a chance to make money. And the City of Utica is one of them. With two casinos less than 25 miles away, our Cara Thomas reports some people don't want to roll the dice on this plan.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- When Mayor Robert Palmieri heard about Governor Cuomo's casino proposal, his first thought was, "The number one spot would be Utica New York."
With the city right off the Thruway, along the Mohawk River and at the foot hills of the Adirondacks, Palmieri said Utica's Harbor Point is the perfect place for a Riverboat Casino.
"If in the event we have a casino here, and we have the casino on the boat, which has the ability to go to Syracuse or Albany, or shared with other cities, they can't bring that into other municipalities, we can," said Palmieri.
Some people are a bit hesitant towards the idea of another casino in the Mohawk Valley. Less than 25 miles west of Utica, there are two casinos already.
"The reality is that it's highly unlikely that the state would want to put a casino so close to Turning Stone and to a lesser extent Vernon Downs. A casino in Utica would put Vernon Downs out of business," said Jeff Gural, Chairman of American Racing.
So instead of bringing new casinos to the Mohawk Valley, Vernon Downs and county officials ask why not improve what the area already has? One idea is to change the laws and allow New York racinos to become casinos.
"We can convert to casinos in three months. Anybody who's going to build a new casino would probably take about four years or something like that to get open," said Gural.
Another idea is to figure out a way the state could benefit from Indian run casinos.
"I think before we entertain further casinos anywhere in New York State, we look to resolve the issues with the existing casinos that are of Indian nature," said Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive.
Mayor Palmieri stands firm with his idea. He said bringing a third casino to the Mohawk Valley would be beneficial for everyone, even the other casinos.
"I think a partnership with Vernon Downs and also a partnership with the casino is exactly what we need for this region. We can't look at it parochial any longer," said Palmieri.
In the end, the decision will come down to the Governor's gambling commission. It will decide where the new casinos will go.