Residents of Saratoga Springs will have the chance tonight to hear from a range of experts on how controversial casino development could affect the area.
Tonight at Saratoga Springs City Center, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Saratoga Springs Convention and Tourism Bureau will host a forum to examine the full-scale impact of the arrival of a resort-style casino in the Spa City following the passage of a statewide ballot proposal in November.
Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga Chamber, said panelists will answer questions sourced from the community over the past several weeks on a wide range of related topics.
“We collected well over 300 questions and comments and we selected the panelists to respond to those questions, so all of those folks who are advocating in either direction had an opportunity to really shape this forum, whether they understand that or not,” said Shimkus.
Earlier today, the anti-casino group SAVE Saratoga held its own press conference to counter the chamber event after a representative of SAVE Saratoga was not chosen to sit on the 14-member panel.
Community members concerned over casino development offered their opinions to the media in advance of the chamber’s casino forum. SAVE Saratoga spokeswoman Sara Boivin...
“SAVE Saratoga - while we are not experts, we’re not in terms of being downtown business leaders, we are not involved in racino operations, we are not horse owners, we don’t work for New York state-funded non-profits - but we are expert citizens. It’s what we do everyday, and that is how this city has been built for the last 30 or 40 years.”
Boivin said members of SAVE Saratoga were concerned because they do not know what questions will be asked of the panel or who exactly will be on it. She also said the group was concerned because there will be no time for live questions from attendees.
Shimkus said the forum will address many of the concerns both the pro and anti-casino groups have been discussing in the media.
“So what we did was we selected people that really can comment on each of the issues and concerns, and raise many of the same objections I suspect tonight that folks are saying the newspapers and online”
Shimkus said panelists will include Marcia White, Executive Director of SPAC, Mark Baker, President of the Saratoga City Center, thoroughbred owners Joe McMahon and Bill WIlmont, Jim Maney, Executive Director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, as well as downtown business and restaurant owners.
The casino forum begins at 7 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Broadway. The event is free and open to the public.