Will casinos boost the Adirondack economy?

The Las Vegas strip. Photo: BrendelSignature, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The editorial board of Denton Publications — the newspaper chain based in Elizabethtown that covers much of the Adirondacks — has come out with a full-throated endorsement of casino gambling in the Park.

“Towns like Newcomb, Port Henry and Tupper Lake that once thrived from logging and mining now seem to be headed the way of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek,” DenPubs argued, comparing rural towns here to post-gold rush communities in Colorado.

Certainly the argument can be made that casinos would forever alter the quality of life that makes the Adirondacks the special place it is.

But through progressive planning — like forcing casinos into commercial districts, limiting stakes and establishing set closing times — casino gambling could be as good a fit here as it proved to be in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.

So what do you think?  Casinos are already a hot topic for debate in the Catskills.  And the casino on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation in northern Franklin County has been a huge boost for the community there.

Do you want to see slots and blackjack at the old Frontier Town location, or perhaps at the old Lowe’s location near Fort Ticonderoga, as Denpubs suggests?  Comments welcome, as always.

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36 Comments on “Will casinos boost the Adirondack economy?”

  1. verplanck says:

    Insane. Why do people come to the Adirondacks? Pristine natural beauty. Casinos are the antithesis of the Adirondacks.

    From the perspective of the casino-goer, why would they travel hours to the middle of nowhere when there are plenty of urban casinos that offer of what they want? I doubt there’s a big market for slots players that take breaks to hike Cascade.

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  2. Jim Bullard says:

    I’ll second Verplank. It makes no sense to me to turn what you have into something else to preserve it. Besides that I can see the whole casino thing reaching a saturation point. Do we really need an opportunity to play slots or blackjack everywhere we go? You can already play LOTTO at virtually every convenience store. And then there is the question of whether encouraging gambling is really good for building the local economy. The economy should be based of exchanges of goods and services not raw speculation. Too much of our economy is already based on speculation.

    P.S. That orange GIVE NOW thing that blocks my view of the blog for second before letting me read the blog post… It’s annoying! I already gave. I can’t afford to give again every time I look at the In Box anymore than I can afford to dump several bucks into a slot machine in every town I drive through.

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  3. Paul says:

    The casino should be in avalanche pass, not these other boring locations. The top of Mt. Marcy is another possibility kind of seems a little like a casino atmosphere up there on a summer day now anyway. Seriously I do know quite a lot of people that travel from the Adirondacks to those reservation casinos and they spend an outrageous amount of money.

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  4. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    It would be a boost to the tourism industry. As you increase the available attractions, more people will make the Adirondacks their vacation destination. This is a great idea.

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  5. Pete Klein says:

    Casinos in the Adirondacks could be successful, but only if they are wide-open, 24/7/365 L. V. style operations with good looking girls bringing drinks.
    You would also need decent restaurants and hotel/motels that provide enough beds for those who would come for more than a day. Otherwise they wouldn’t fly or attract anyone but the locals.

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  6. Peter Hahn says:

    Its a tourism related business and so in that sense it fits, but as Verplanck points out the people who come to the adirondacks as tourists are not the same people who go to casinos. You could argue that it would attract new people – totally different tourists (busses full of elderly gamblers). But its hard to imagine that it would enhance the experience of the people who come here now. (and easy to argue that it would detract). It would have to be done very carefully. I think you would want to look carefully at the percentage of backpackers/skiiers in the west who combine an outdoor recreation vacation with a side trip to Las Vegas (or vise versa).

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  7. dan3583 says:

    I agree with all of Jim’s points, including the concern over gambling’s effect on the economy. It may create jobs, it may bring money to other vendors in a given location, but the societal cost can also be pretty high. I know that the vast majority of people I stand behind while they buy a handful of lottery tickets rarely appear to be white collar workers. I don’t mean to be non-PC, but, let’s be real: many people spending their food money on “a dollar and a dream” have better things to do with that money.

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  8. Mervel says:

    But will it create long term economic growth and jobs?

    I would like to really look at some evidence of the impact. Look at the impact of prisons. Now of course we need them, but some studies I have seen have shown that in the long run the damage to economic development was worse than the immediate jobs benefits of accepting a Gulag prison culture we know have. Would the impact be the same for casino’s? Rural casino’s don’t always succeed, it is not some sort of in the bag deal. We already have quite a few casino’s, the big one down in Syracuse, the reservation casino, the Ottawa Casino and so forth. It seems like plenty of opportunity already?

    I don’t know the answer. I guess it would depend on where you put one? I would think you would want it someplace that would do the least amount of damage. In the village of Tupper Lake, in the Village of Malone or Plattsburgh for example. I think sticking it out in the middle of the wilderness is a very very bad idea. It would certainly wreck the character in my opinion of some of our areas in the Adirondacks.

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  9. Mervel says:

    Plus rural casino’s often just end up to be a tax on the poor and the local people who sometimes end up being the main users and you have a range of social issues dealing with gambling addiction etc, why would people from the City not just stop at Turning Stone?

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  10. The Original Larry says:

    Casinos benefit only those who own them. Anyone foolish enough to think the local economy will benefit only needs to look at Atlantic City to see how that “re-vitalization” worked out. Have they brought out the “this will fund education” argument yet? They will, but again, look at school taxes in NJ which are among the highest in the country. Casino gambling was supposed to solve that too. Bottom line: casino gambling is a bad idea because it will ruin the North Country without providing any benefit locally.

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  11. Kathy C says:

    Nooooo – let’s keep our beloved Adirondacks the way that they are! Trees ~ fresh pure air ~ mountains ~ hikes ~ natural beauty ~ that’s what brings people to the area. Introduce this wonderful area to more families and the younger generation so that it may stay forever wild!

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  12. Paul says:

    Peter, and you could check it in Vegas. If you are heading to some of the ski resorts in the Sierra Vegas is a good way to get there. The question is do the skiers hit the strip on the way in or out?

    If some of these Adirondack town want to position themselves as a place for folks to retire to (sounds like an opportunity for some) then maybe the clientele would be there already.

    If you look at some older Adirondack Life articles you will see that some of these towns were very much a draw for some of the same acts that hit Vegas in the past. I remember reading that Sammy Davis junior performed with his father at the Royal Pines Night Club in Lake George. In a sense this idea is maybe not about changing the Adirondacks but changing it “back” to what it was back then. Prohibition really helped the place thrive in some respects.

    I know that most folks think that the Adirondacks is on the grow but if you look back at its history places like Saranac Lake are really just a shell of what they were in the past.

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  13. tootightmike says:

    An excellent photo choice. Just what everyone wants to see when they imagine the future of the Adirondacks.

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  14. dan3583 says:

    Here’s an exerpt from’ The Social and Economic Impact of Native American Casinos': “The negative changes include about a 10 percent increase in auto thefts, larceny, violent crime, and bankruptcy in counties four years after a casino has opened, and an increase in bankruptcies within 50 miles of a new casino. The authors caution against applying their results too generally. Job generation “does not necessarily mean that granting reservations a monopoly in a particular industry is also a desirable policy,” and because casino profits are not taxable, “their presence in many states possibly diverts funds from a taxable activity.” Finally, little is known about the distribution of benefits.

    Gee…bring one to my town. I think they left out the increase in alcoholism and drug addiction that often occurs.

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  15. dan3583 says:

    I should point out that the above just happened to be the first articl that popped up when I googled for economic impact. There is probably a corelation with all casinos, not only those operated by Native Americans. Didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

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  16. newt says:

    Take it from one who has spent a lot of time there, nobody comes to Port Henry for ” Pristine natural beauty..” of the Adirondacks. Through it, maybe, but not to it. I think the argument could be made that ambushing some of those Vermonters coming off the Bridge with one-armed bandits might just make a difference to it’s local economy. Not sure about the other towns. And I tend to line up with the NIMBY tree-hugging Greenies on most issues.

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  17. Ken Hall says:

    I applaud the fact that it would appear that the “nays” have it hands down when it comes to the idiocy of building more and bigger “gaming” casinos. I have acquaintance with a few North Country folks who constrain themselves to the adage of “not a pot to pee in nor a window to throw it out” because they deposit $500 and more with the Akwesasne Casino every week.

    Obviously the push to “create jobs” for a few and large profits for the miniscule numbers of owners of casinos, to the detriment of the many, dovetails nicely with all of the other high profit wars on addiction ballyhooed about in this country.

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  18. newt says:

    I would honestly like to see some independent analysis on the issue on the issue of whether casinos can be a good thing for a community. Not just opinions and feelings.

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  19. newt says:

    Not that opinions and feelings are not important.

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  20. The Original Larry says:

    There is nothing good about a casino. You might as well legalize drugs and open opium dens.

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  21. Wizard says:

    Casinos in the Dacs. Perfect. Maybe we can get one in Tupper Lake to go with the ACR, that’s a big longshot gambel if I ever heard of one. It would be just like Lake Tahoe.

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  22. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I think a casino in Lake Placid could work. Lot of tourists, already a lot of hotels, restaurants and bars. And it really wouldn’t change the character of the village much. It’s probably the only place in the Adirondacks where one would make economic sense, actually. I agree you wouldn’t want one in Piercefield or Newcomb, but no investors are going to put one in there anyway, because it wouldn’t be profitable. I say allow them, let local governments and planning agencies and the free market determine what belongs where and what doesn’t.

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  23. Marlo Stanfield says:

    Edit: One in Lake George would make sense too, for the same reasons but more so.

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  24. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Let the Indians have casinos (or nor as they choose) and stay out of it. Do we have to try to steal every single opportunity they get?

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  25. The Original Larry says:

    Yeah, right, I can’t wait to see something similar to either of these two somewhere in the middle of Lake Placid. Maybe in Newcomb….lots of empty space there.



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  26. Chris C says:

    “Will casinos boost the Adirondack economy?” – um… no.
    Thanks for the reminder of the Foxwoods layout, Larry.
    Casinos are about casinos. They are not about improving the local economy. They are about improving the casino’s economy. You know what they say – ‘the house always wins.’
    The business plan of a casino is to keep the player inside or very nearby until he has no more money.
    It is a sad and predatory business. It brings out the worst of human behavior.
    The Adirondack Park brings out the best in us and brings an opportunity to see the best; in us and around us. It is not about 24 7 stimulation and programmed disorientation. It is not about loosing hold of our senses of time and place, but of taking time to gather those senses back. These mountains are a respite from everything that the casino embodies and promotes.
    To me, the these mountains are the stop where we get off the crazy-train.
    Please, don’t let’s destroy what we have found here.
    – How about giving the same amount of tax breaks and business incentives to industries that are more in tune with area like summer camps or yoga salons and retreat centers. What if you used half of the money and good will that a casino would consume to build / rebuild a first rate summer camp?

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  27. Peter Hahn says:

    How about in the old wooden spoon building in Tupperware Lake?

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  28. JDM says:

    If casinos produced increased local economic activity, the res should be flourishing – which it isn’t.

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  29. Peter Hahn says:

    JDM – turningstone?

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  30. Peter Hahn says:

    I didnt mean to write tupperware lake – it was the spell checker – but it kind of fits with the spoon factory

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  31. Two Cents says:

    They should put it right next to the international airport, the convention center, and a short bus ride to the zoo.
    due to a DEC study, currently there would be no plan to link it with the scenic railroad.

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  32. Paul says:

    “I didnt mean to write tupperware lake – it was the spell checker – but it kind of fits with the spoon factory” I thought it was a great comment, it was perfect!

    Look people casinos in the Adirondacks is something that I would not personally want. I often try and comment here on what might be a good idea despite the fact that I hate it personally. People here always take those comments as meaning that I am some kind of supporter of the idea. I assume that the same goes for others.

    Marlo has a point, one that I tried to make yesterday in a way. Places like Lake George and Saranac Lake have been really hopping places in the past. They had a casino like atmosphere with probably lots of gambling going on (and they probably had lots of the bad stuff that comes along with it). They had those “thriving hamlets” surrounded by woods that so many people (even environmental groups if you can believe them) claim to be what we want in the Adirondacks. I especially considered that when I saw Tootight’s comment. If you have ever been to Vegas it is basically a jumping city surrounded by a beautiful desert. Would never want to live there and I don’t gamble or need a prostitute so it ain’t my cup of tea but that is just my personal take and it has nothing to do with whether or not something is a good idea for someone else.

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  33. newt says:

    The most beloved lunch lady at my old school, who used to make really good Italian dishes and serve them to the kids in the lunch line, calling them all “Honey” (and most of whom she seemed to be the grandmother or great aunt of), loved to get together with a bunch of her friends and bus down to Atlantic City every couple of months, and drop a couple of hundred bucks, or, occasionally, win a like amount. This is why I don’t freak out at the thought of a casino or two a lot closer for folks like her to enjoy losing a fraction of their Social Security or part-time paychecks. I, myself, have never been in a casino, and have no desire to change.

    But the costs of casinos in the ‘dacks may exceed the benefits. As I said, it would be nice to see some objective studies.

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  34. Richard says:

    Properly sited in Hamlet or Moderate Intensity Use, go for it! There would be spin off business at nearby stores, motels, restaurants, etc.

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  35. The Original Larry says:

    Casinos in the North Country will feature the development of large scale resorts with casinos, restaurants, bars, shopping and other recreation opportunities (golf, etc.) within the resort. The gamblers and their mo eh will never leave the casino property. The only time you’ll see them is when you’re stuck in traffic with them. What you will see are the bottom feeders who always follow gambling money: grifters, pimps, dealers, hookers, pawn shops, etc. How about a “We pay cash for your car” lot in your town? Maybe a new jail to hold the DWIs? The benign image of happy grandmas playing slots is put out by the casino industry to legitimize a dirty business.

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  36. The Original Larry says:

    Should have been “gamblers and their money”

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