LAKE GEORGE -- Mayor Robert Blais is calling again for a study that would examine the impact a gambling casino would have on Warren County’s tourism economy.
“Warren County is a sleeping giant and we need to be ready to decide,” Blais said. “A lot of people would like to see legalized gambling come to Warren County, a lot would not. But we should do a study and be ready — we can’t let this question pass us by.”
The mayor’s renewed call for a casino study came Wednesday, the same day as Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined in his State of the State speech a plan to boost tourism and development in upstate New York with as many as three resort gambling casinos.
The casino gaming plan would aim specifically at drawing New York City residents to gambling establishments within the state and away from Atlantic City in New Jersey and Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
The expansion of casino gambling in New York would be subject to a November referendum, and Cuomo said in his speech 90 percent of the revenue would go toward education and 10 percent would be dedicated to local property tax relief.
Blais estimated a regional casino study would cost $25,000 to $30,000, and he plans to ask Warren County and the town of Lake George to share the cost with the village.
“I think the mayor has the right idea to test the waters and see if Warren County would be a viable location,” said Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Geraghty.
The next step would likely be Blais meeting with county officials, then deciding whether the county’s tourism committee or another committee would discuss pursuing a study, Geraghty said.
“I think Bob (Blais) is going to come down, and we’ll find the proper committee to take it to. I can support it if the committee can support it,” Geraghty said. “I’m sure we’re going to get some feedback from some folks in Lake George and Warren County who would want us to explore it.”
The goal of the study would be to provide information about how a casino in Warren County would affect the regional economy and the area’s image, crime rate, employment, the type of jobs it would create and the demands it would place on infrastructure. With a study done, local officials will know what the impact would be if and when casinos are permitted in New York, Blais said.
The mayor called for a casino study in 2011, and sent a letter to Warren County supervisors asking them to join the effort, but nothing came of it. The Village Board set aside funds in a past budget for a study, but that budget has come and gone and village officials are now working on a 2013-14 budget.
Blais said he has heard from people who want to see a casino in Warren County, including the owners of the Roaring Brook Ranch on Route 9N, who have voiced interest in locating a casino on their property.
“I don’t have an opinion on it — I don’t know enough about it, but I think I should,” Blais said. “I think we owe it to our constituents.”