Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Tourism leaders meet with legislators

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Albany/HV: Tourism leaders meet with legislators
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- It's one of the pillars of the Capital Region's economy, and leaders from the tourism industry are calling on state legislators to provide at least the same level of funding from 2012.

At a special roundtable discussion in Albany on Thursday, lawmakers and tourism leaders discussed topics ranging from economic development grants to casinos. As legislators debate a bill to legalize casino gambling in the state, leaders remain hopeful the locations of the three casinos would be disclosed before the referendum goes to a public vote in November.

Video lottery terminal casinos, or VLTs, at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Saratoga Casino and Raceway already provide millions of dollars in revenue to the tourism and horse racing industries, which leaders say must be preserved.

"Whether it is the thoroughbred race tracks at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga or the harness track in Saratoga. We are supportive of casinos in New York but we would like to make sure legislation tells us specifically where they are going to be. We want one of them to be in Saratoga, but we also want to make sure the funding that comes out of these casinos also goes to support the harness racing and thoroughbred racing industry, as the VLTs already do," said Todd Shimkus, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President.

The state legislature voted in support of casino gambling last year. Lawmakers must approve it again this year before it goes to a public vote in November.

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