Almost Time to Vote on the Casino Issue

  |  October 30, 2013

Which way will you go? A recent op-ed in the Albany Times-Union, by Catskill Mountainkeeper founder Ramsey Adams, argued that casinos are a bad bet. “For us, the casino question is straightforward,” he wrote. “When we again take a close look at the facts, it’s hard to buy the sunny picture the pro-casino forces are painting. They’ve even tried to stack the deck with slanted language in the referendum itself.

“On virtually every front — from the environmental impact to the burden casinos place on local services to a likely increase in crime — we’re convinced the drawbacks vastly outstrip the benefits.”

Meanwhile, Sullivan County realtor David Knudsen has his own reasoned pro-casino stance: “The reason I’m pro-casino is that a casino, with it’s hundreds of hotel rooms and other recreational amenities, will be a catalyst for other development. Over the years I’ve talked with a number of hotel developers who’ve eyed Sullivan because of proximity to NYC, but have shied away because of our short peak summer season. If we had a big downhill ski mountain it might be another story, but we don’t. A casino hotel with associated amenities can extend our season, and give other developers some confidence that their rooms won’t be empty for eight months of the year. (I love the plan for an indoor water park at the Concord!)”

We’re Switzerland, of course, and we see both sides. We’ve interviewed experts on gambling as economic development who have expressed skepticism (this is a polite way of putting it) about this scheme, but we are also aching to see the Catskills, and especially Sullivan County, restored to some version of its former glory.

Our suggestion is to force the casinos to renovate the still-standing, but crumbling, resorts. Help Grossinger’s rise from the ashes and then you can add your Black Jack tables.

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