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December 07, 2016
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Casino fever takes hold; A push for Proposition One

Sullivan County chair Scott Samuelson addresses the audience at a rally to support a gaming referendum in New York.

He added that the jobs created would be union jobs, which come with benefits that many non-union workers are increasingly being denied. He said, “Normally they don’t get a health plan, and retirement plans today are becoming rarer and rarer. So with a union job and a contract to work under, there are three main things: good wages, a health plan for your family and a way to retire someday.”

Georgia Siegel said she graduated from college two years ago, and moved back to the area, but many of her friends have moved away because of a lack of opportunities. She said, “I hope New York supports the November referendum and that Sullivan County has the chance to grow jobs. I want to be able to stay here, work here and encourage my friends to move here.”

Support from towns

The last time there was serious talk about casinos opening in Sullivan County, there was a push for five to be located here. That brought resistance from some of the municipalities. In 2005, the towns of Cochecton and Delaware passed resolutions saying that they opposed five casinos. The Town of Bethel passed a resolution banning casinos from the town, but did not necessarily take a position on casinos elsewhere.

This time around, there seems to be solid support from the towns. Eleven of the 15 town supervisors have voted in favor of a resolution supporting casinos, with the supervisor of the Town of Fremont abstaining. No supervisors voted against the resolution. It says in part, “Gaming, as a single component within a destination resort, will provide the much needed catalyst to stimulate further economic growth in Sullivan County and support of our local community.”

Support from legislators

Among the county legislators in 2005, there were some who were opposed to the development of casinos. This time around there is broader support. At a meeting at the government center on August 15, eight legislators voted for a resolution in support of gambling.

The resolution said in part, “It is vital that the people of Sullivan County and the entire State of New York, vote yes on Proposition One and that the referendum on the November 2013 ballot authorizing Class III Gaming be approved.”

Legislator Cindy Gieger voted no, saying she was opposed to supporting one position over another ahead of the vote by the people in November.