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Mayor to state: put casino here

— The city’s future, however, could hinge on decisions made at the state level about the establishment of destination resort casinos in seven different locations statewide. If Saratoga Casino and Raceway is not chosen and another casino is placed nearby, Johnson said, it could jeopardize the casino’s (and the city’s) revenues.

“We are well aware of the financial dependence of our city upon the continued success of our historic racetrack,” said Johnson. “Anything, anything that would serve to threaten the survival of horseracing cannot be tolerated.”

Johnson said that revenue from the casino and raceway for Saratoga County has been calculated to exceed $60 million per year, with wages and salaries exceeding $15 million per year.

“Make no doubt about it, this casino gaming proposal, without further amendments to protect our horseracing industry and selecting us as a casino site, is not government operating at its best in true transparency,” he said. “Come on, Albany. Lay all the cards on the table.”

Johnson also targeted the new, state-manage NYRA format, and said in no uncertain terms any changes to gambling laws must not affect the VLT revenue sharing agreements the city enjoys.

“The integrity and future of New York State racing must not be compromised by any quick rich scheme,” Johnson said. “New York can and should do better to support our time honored Sport of Kings, here at the Spa.”

During his speech, Johnson also announced he had officially formed a committee to review the city’s comprehensive plan. The topic proved contentious at a Tuesday, Jan. 15, City Countil meeting during which commissioners said they should be the ones to pick the committee members, not the mayor.

Johnson said although he already had picked 11 members, he was extending an offer to each of the council members to recommend one member for the committee.

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