On November 5, the people of Sullivan County and the entire state face a monumental decision. Do we vote to amend the New York State Constitution to allow class three gaming in New York State? The implications are enormous. What is at stake are the billions of tourism dollars that pass over our borders into New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Canada and now Massachusetts each year. $1.2 billion dollars in actual gaming proceeds and $1.8 billion in ancillary tourism revenue is spent by New York residents in neighboring communities that are already hosts to Native American or commercial casinos. This has to end. New York must begin to retain those revenues to enhance the quality of life for the residents of New York State.
For decades, Sullivan County was the tourism destination in New York State. Our community and the region were home to some of the top resort hotels recognized worldwide. Thousands upon thousands of tourists came to “the mountains” to enjoy our fresh air, cool nights and the best entertainment on the planet. There was not a performer, comedian or singer, that didn’t strive to reach the level of success that was “playing the mountains.” We had it all. I do not have to tell you what has happened since then.
We have an opportunity on November 5 that will change all of that. Giving us the ability to capture significant new revenues for the state that will be spent to enhance our educational systems statewide, reduce our property tax burden and for Sullivan County and the region, bring thousands of quality jobs. The proposed destination resorts will help restore Sullivan County, if successful in obtaining a gaming license, to its former status as the tourism destination in New York State. With our already established tourism amenities, (Bethel Woods, Monticello Motor Club, the beautiful Upper Delaware River and scenic byway, etc.), we will again be able to market to the 26 million people that reside in the metropolitan New York area and surrounding region. This is by far the most important economic development opportunity this state has proposed in decades. We must vote yes for Proprosition 1 and give ourselves this extraordinary opportunity.
I would like to acknowledge some of the people who have been working tirelessly to get this message out, not only in our community but as far across the state as possible. The members of Citizens for NY Gaming, business owner and developer Randy Resnick, entrepreneur and former SC Legislator Steve Kurlander, president of the SC Chamber of Commerce Teri Ward, president of the SC Partnership for Economic Development, Marc Baez and president/CEO of the Sullivan County Visitors Association, Roberta Byron-Lockwood. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our community.
[Scott B. Samuelson is chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature.]
[Editor’s note: this summer the Sullivan County Legislature approved a resolution supporting casino gaming. The vote was eight to one.]