Casino gambling will not become legal in New York State for another two years, if then. Nevertheless, the prospect of casinos in Lake George is stirring new hopes among some residents, and fears in others.
“Casinos, if they come here or if they go to competing resorts, could determine the future of Lake George,” said Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais. “If it’s put to a vote, it’s going to be the biggest decision ever made in Warren County.”
In December, Blais and the Village’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to help fund a study of a casino’s likely impacts on Lake George.
“If we’re to determine the effects of gaming on infrastructure, taxes, employment and the quality of life, we need information. We have to get the ball rolling,” said Blais.
Blais said he would ask Warren County and the Town of Lake George to contribute to the costs of the analysis, which would be conducted by an independent consultant.
But according to New York State Senator Betty Little, a 2004 agreement between New York State and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe may preclude Lake George casinos.
“That law grants the St. Regis Mohawks the right to operate slot machines in exchange for a portion of the proceeds for the State,” said Little. “The law prohibits the state from allowing others to operate slots in an eight county region, which includes Warren County.”
Little continued, “How would a constitutional amendment legalizing gambling address that? Would the State have to change the 2004 statute and what interest would there be in doing so?”
But, Little said, “The legislative leaders and governor have agreed to work toward an amendment. There is public support for doing so and given the state’s
financial challenges, a strong desire to act.”
According to Dan Macentee, Little’s spokesman, the Senator would support Warren County’s efforts to bring gaming to the area, if, that is, Warren County wants casinos.