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Vernon Downs says Governor's desire to allow gambling would open vast employment opportunities

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

VERNON, N.Y. (WKTV) - Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel is on board with Governor Andrew Cuomo's support of an amendment that would allow gambling on non-Indian territories.

In his State of the State Address Wednesday, Governor Cuomo recognized that New York is losing tax revenue, tourism dollars and jobs to neighboring states, and said gaming should be allowed across New York State.

While allowing gambling on non-Indian locations would potentially bring more competition to the casinos already in New York, Vernon Downs sees it as an opportunity to expand.

"It puts us in a better revenue and allows us to create more jobs and that's what it's all about - bringing people back to work," says Vernon Downs General Manager Scott Freeman.

Freeman says an amendment opening gambling to non-Indian territories would turn them from a racino with a race track and only video lottery terminals to a full casino with gaming tables, allowing them to bring in many new jobs.

"Table games is very labor-intensive, so there'd be a significant amount of new hires," says Freeman.

Freeman says if passed, they would be able to compete more with Turning Stone Casino in Verona and get a younger clientele that's more interested in playing table games.

Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter from Turning Stone gave this statement: "We support the Governor's goal of revitalizing the upstate economy and creating a more prosperous future for all of our communities. We look forward to working with the Administration as a productive partner in building a better New York."

Freeman wants the increased gaming to stay a hot topic in the state, as it could bring $1 billion in state revenue.

"A lot of (people who play table games)...if they're not playing at an Indian Reservation in the state, they're going out of state," Freeman said. "That's money that we should have."

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