Lake George officials say they plan to study the idea of opening a
casino in their village. Mayor Robert Blais says he's not sure whether
or not gambling would improve the community's economy. But he says Governor Andrew Cuomo's push for a constitutional amendment
that would allow more off-reservation gambling in New York raises big
questions for Lake George. "We're obviously a very well known family resort, we've been successful. We've got a beautiful lake. What would a casino do to our image? What would it do to our tourism industry? And what affect would it have on our quality of life? Those are all extremely important questions that I think need to be decided well ahead of perhaps the opportunity to vote on having one here," Blais said.
The study, approved by the village council on Monday, could cost as much as $15,000. Most full-scale casinos in New York are currently restricted to native American reservations, like the one operated by the Akwesasne Mohawk community in northern Franklin County. But if Governor Cuomo's referendum on gambling goes before voters, other casinos could open in the next few years. Mayor Blais says a previous study conducted by state officials suggested that a new casino could bring more crime. "The 1996 report indicated that in every community where there was a casino, there was a rise in crime in several different categories. We don't even have a police department in the village of Lake George any longer, so these are the kind of things we need to look at," Blais said.
The Akwesasne Mohawk casino in Hogansburg, meanwhile, is in the middle
of a $75 million expansion, with a new hotel and bingo area.