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March 18, 2014

Saratoga Springs casino is touted for the Howe Caverns site

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — With a casino proposed for Saratoga Springs snarled by stiff local resistance, Schoharie County businessman Emil Galasso said Monday he hopes to partner with a gaming company to push for a gambling hall at the Howe Caverns tourist attraction.

“This is a shovel ready project,” said Galasso, president of Cobleskill Stone Products, pointing out that the 330-acre site has access to sewer and water hookups and should easily clear environmental reviews.

“We want to put our hat in the ring now, only because of what happened in Saratoga,” Galasso told The Daily Star.

The property has been eyed for a possible water park and other attractions, he noted. Making the site a major tourist destination could be significantly enhanced — and would stoke the local economy — if it could be garnished with a casino.

Two weeks ago, the Saratoga City Council unanimously approved a non-binding resolution coming out against the community playing host city to a Las Vegas-style casino. That was one of the projects that was proposed after Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year successfully pushed for a constitutional amendment ending New York’s prohibition against casinos

Under the legislation, Schoharie is considered part of” “Region 2,” an area eligible for one of the casinos authorized by the legislation. The region also includes Montgomery, Fulton, Schenectady, Albany, Rensselaer, Washington and Saratoga counties.

Howe Caverns, located near Howes Cave, just off Interstate 88, updated its facilities in recent years. Schoharie County is still recovering from the devastating floods of 2011, and last year experienced one of the biggest drops in sales tax revenue in the state.

Chris Tague, a spokesman for Galsso’s company, said the fact that Howe Caverns can be easily reached from Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Albany — and is 2.5 hours from New York City — should enhance its chances to be considered for a casino.

Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone, a Democrat, tried to advance a pro-casino resolution at last month’s meeting of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, but the idea was rejected. However, Milone’s proposal did not identify a specific site.

Galasso said he is confident the idea would win support once a detailed presentation is prepared for the supervisors and once he succeeds in arousing the interest of a casino developer that would manage the facility.