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Big Win For Video Gambling in New York

14 February 2002

NEW YORK – As reported by the (New York) Times Union: "Bettors will be wagering on video lottery terminals by December now that the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, at its Wednesday meeting, has legalized installation of the gambling devices at the troubled harness track in Saratoga Springs.

"The measure passed overwhelmingly. Twenty supervisors backed placing the machines at Saratoga Equine Sports Center and three opposed it, ending four months of intense lobbying. Nearly all of the audience of 100 stood and applauded after the vote.

"…Wolfgang Hammer, business agent for Hotel & Motel & Restaurant Employees & Bartenders Union Local 471, said the expanded operations brought by the gambling machines should lead to more jobs. He expects his membership at the track to grow from 25 to close to 150 -- like what it was in the facility's 1960s heyday, when the track attracted crowds of more than 5,000 for each night of racing -- as opposed to the current attendance of about 350.

"The harness track is planning to invest $4.5 million in upgrading its facility to accommodate the terminals.

"…The only thing that could prevent the terminals is a pending lawsuit brought by anti-casino forces against the state.

"…Saratoga County is the leading horse county in the state, with 11,800 horses of all types with a value of $317.4 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2000 Equine Survey. The statewide value is $1.7 billion, with 168,000 horses.

"Jobs and protecting agriculture were the selling points for the majority of the Board of Supervisors.

"…The harness track projected $500 million will be wagered using 750 to 1,000 slots-style machines. The state, track and horsemen will share $50 million, with the remaining being paid out in winnings to the bettors. The state will take 75 percent of the $50 million, with the track and horsemen sharing the rest…'

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