Some in county hoping casino in the cards

FONDA – Montgomery County’s economic officials are hoping municipalities will support efforts to attract a casino to the county.

“This project is completely locally driven,” said Ken Rose, director of the Montgomery County Business Development Center. “If the municipalities don’t approve of it, then it won’t happen.”

Montgomery County is one of the counties in the Capital Region that can be considered for a casino after voters statewide approved a measure last year allowing casinos.

Rose said he’s been working on the casino effort behind the scenes, but now he wants to bring it to the public’s attention to “engage the community and get their input.”

Rose said he hasn’t heard anything negative from people in the county and hopes the initiative moves forward.

Rose said broker Mick Mullins of Mullins Realty is promoting a pair of properties off Route 30 for a possible casino.

The “separate and adjacent” land would total 512 acres and include 341 acres in the city of Amsterdam and 171 in the town of Florida, Rose said.

Rose requested resolutions to support the project from the county legislature, the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam. He said he’s hoping the boards will pass these resolutions at their meetings this month.

Not only does the project require community support, it also requires private business investment.

“The state only granted us a casino operator’s license,” Rose said. “So it’s necessary that any casino project be funded through a casino operator, a developer and possibly the municipality itself.”

County Executive Matt Ossenfort said he’s in favor of bringing a casino to the county.

“I think we need to explore every economic development opportunity for this county,” Ossenfort said. “A casino would bring a lot of jobs into the county, which is something we need. I haven’t heard anything negative from the community. Everyone seems to support the idea currently. I’ve received lots of calls from residents telling me they approve.”

New Yorkers in general seem to approve of casinos after the votes from November’s election were tallied for a state constitution amendment legalizing non-Indian casino gambling.

Montgomery County voters had the highest approval percentage in the area for the amendment with 56 percent of the voters saying yes. Fulton County was close behind with 55 percent.

Officials say they believe a casino would help the county’s 8.2 percent unemployment rate.

The New York State Division of the Budget released a report that estimates the regional fiscal impact a casino would have on the Capital Region would be $35.5 million annually, which includes $11.4 million in host county aid.

Rose said he’s waiting on the municipalities’ support before making the next move.

“This could potentially be a great opportunity for the county’s economy,” he said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”