New York State reached an agreement with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, ending all hopes of a casino coming to Essex County or any of the other seven counties in a regional exclusivity compact.
A casino on the shore of Lake Champlain makes sense to the Moriah town board.
That’s why trustees will ask New York State to consider Port Henry as a site for one of the seven casino locations to be approved later this year.
“Moriah is officially asking to be considered as a casino location,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “We feel a location on Lake Champlain is perfect. I, personally, think Port Henry would be a great location.
“Realistically, what chance is there a casino will be built in the Adirondack Park?” he continued. “I don’t know, but if we don’t try we’ll never find out.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed building casinos in upstate New York as part of a plan to enhance the state’s economy. The state legislature passed a constitutional amendment last year legalizing up to seven casinos. It must be passed again this year and then be approved in a statewide voter referendum before becoming law.
Anticipating approval, Cuomo plans to select the casino locations in 2013.
“There hasn’t been much discussion in the community about this,” Scozzafava said. “I’m not sure what people think. I’m certain some people like the idea and others don’t. At this point we’re just keeping our options open.”
New York currently only allows table gambling in Native American resorts. The state also allows companies to open and run video lottery terminals at so-called racinos in Saratoga, Yonkers and Queens.
“We are finally confronting the reality that while New York is already in the gaming business, we need a real plan to regulate and capitalize on the industry,” Cuomo said. “This is a process that will ultimately put thousands of New Yorkers to work, drive our economy and help keep billions of dollars spent by New Yorkers on gaming in the state.”
In February the Essex County Board of Supervisors discussed the idea of a casino in the county, but took no action.
If Port Henry isn’t selected as a casino site, Scozzafava said there are other locations in Essex County that could host a major gambling operation.
“I suggested Lowe’s in Ticonderoga, but I was kidding about that,” Scozzafava. “The ideal place would be the former Frontier Town.”
The Lowe’s Home Improvement Center in Ticonderoga closed in 2011. The large warehouse-type building at the intersection of Routes 9N and 74 remains vacant.
Frontier Town, located at Exit 29 of the Northway in North Hudson, has been closed since 1998. It’s owned by Sunrise Land Development of Westchester, but the county is in the process of taking ownership because of back taxes.
While New York State will approve the locations, the casinos will be constructed and operated by private enterprises, Scozzafava said. They will create private-sector jobs and add to the local tax base.