Arts Venues: Limit Casino Entertainment

Oct 22, 2013

A coalition formed in response to a planned statewide referendum about whether to amend the New York constitution to authorize up to seven additional casinos held a press conference this morning at Capital Repertory in downtown Albany.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

A veritable"who's who" of leaders of Capital Region arts non-profits gathered in a show of solidarity under the moniker "Upstate Theaters for a Fair Game." The group hopes to educate the public on what it sees as potential negative effects of casino expansion on what it refers to as "local entertainment ecosystems," noting that mid-sized arts and entertainment venues in neighboring states have been impacted by casino-based entertainment offerings. Group chair and Proctors CEO Philip Morris emphasizes the aim is to ensure a level playing field is created for all entertainment venues seeking to bring talent to their communities.

Saratoga City Center President Mark Baker believes an expanded gaming facility (in the Capital Region) would be devastating and dramatic to local performing arts organizations and convention centers.

Arts reps from Saratoga are concerned that exclusive events at a casino, should one appear near the Spa City, would drain the life and revenue out of downtown at a rate of about a million dollars a month. Coalition co-chair Marcia White, President and Executive Director of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, explained the group is NOT anti-casino or anti-gambling.

The arts reps say it boils down to the fact that for-profit groups have the monetary power to cut better deals with talent agents and booking agencies than non-profits. Voters will decide the fate of the casino referendum November 5th.