NEWS10 ABC Special Report: Betting on casinos

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. – The exact location may not be known, yet, but a casino in the Capital Region is inevitable, but how exactly would it impact the local economy?

Atlantic City is a four hour drive down I-87. It’s where several families have spent summer vacations on the beach and in the casinos. But there’s more to the resort city than a board walk, tourists and casinos.

“We made mistakes for you,” Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said. “You don’t have to make them all over again.”

Beyond the glitz and glamour of casinos, Atlantic City is a depressed city with a lot of poverty, unemployment and buildings in disrepair. Many of which are only a block away from the big money-making machines.

Guardian is the man responsible for turning around Atlantic City.

“We got drunk on the excitement of having a monopoly of gaming on the East Coast,” he said.

Guardian only had one thing to say when he heard casinos were headed to the Capital Region:

“I think you’re crazy if you think a casino in your town is going to solve good government,” he said.

NEWS10 ABC reporter Trishna Begam brought Guardian’s concerns to three Capital Region leaders pushing for casinos.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has been a big proponent for the Capital View Casino in East Greenbush but had no comment. Her press person Shaylnne Morrison said Sheehan did not want to take part in NEWS10 ABC’s story.

Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer, however, did want to participate.

“I don’t know what happened down there, but here, we have a plan in place right now,” he said.

Dwyer said his city is where the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino would be built. He said Rensselaer won’t make the same mistakes as Atlantic City.

“The size of this casino is for this market area,” he said. “It’s not going to be over blown.”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy also listened to Guardian’s concerns.

“He’s going through an extremely difficult time now where they’re having projects they invested billions of dollars in closing down,” he said.

McCarthy said the game is different this time around.

“In my mind, what it is is the market restructuring itself,” he explained. “These casinos are being built as more regional boutique facilities.”

Cash machines or not, Guardian believes the Capital Region won’t see the projected revenue city leaders are banking on.

“Is the community ever going to see money?” Trishna Begam asked.

“No,” Guardian responded.

Guardian was adamant casinos didn’t work in Atlantic City. His advice was to diversify the product and not hedge all bets on a casino to win over the local economy.

McCarthy was already taking that piece of advice.

“Casinos will be one element of a development package,” he said. “Atlantic City did not have any other development plans.”

So why do leaders like Mayors McCarthy and Dwyer think casinos will work in the Capital Region? Because of the difference in investments.

The Revel is one of the newest casinos built in Atlantic City. It closed down in September. It cost an estimated $2.4 billion to build.

In comparison, the project in Schenectady for Rivers Casino and Resort will be an estimated $300 million. The Hard Rock in Rensselaer is estimated upwards of $200 million.

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